Sunday, February 28, 2010

FL - Homeless ex-con may get help from V.A.

Original Article
Latest News - Going to the VA

So, Ron Book, head of the homeless trust, where were you? Are you really in the business to "help" homeless people, or just make your wallet fatter?


By Brittany Wallman

A homeless, convicted child-killer arrested last week in downtown Fort Lauderdale was still in jail Sunday, but will likely be transferred to a hospital for military veterans, officials said.

Fort Lauderdale police found _____ hiding in bushes downtown and arrested him Friday. His alleged crime: a third-degree felony, failing to report his "transient'' address on his official state identification. Broward County Judge Jay Hurley set bond at $1,000 on Saturday.

_____, 60, served 15 years in prison in Illinois after confessing to the 1977 rape, stabbing and murder of 12-year-old Lisa Slusser of Waukegan, Ill. He was released in 2006, moved to Florida, and was imprisoned shortly thereafter, in May 2007, for failing to register as a sex offender.

Since his August release from a Miami prison, he has called the streets and parks of downtown Fort Lauderdale home.

_____ is properly registered with the state as a transient sex offender, but Fort Lauderdale police say he failed to update the address on his official identification. It still lists his mother's home address in Lake Placid, rather than "transient.''

Doug Brawley, chief assistant public defender in charge of mental health, said Sunday he had talked to the Veterans Administration hospital in Sunrise and to _____, in hopes the ex-con will get assistance to stop living on the streets.

"This guy really wanted help. I think this is going to be one of those rare stories that really will have a good outcome,'' Brawley said.

After his presence in Stranahan Park was publicized last week in the Sun Sentinel, police arrested _____ for the address felony. His case gave momentum to a city effort to clear the parks of homeless people who go there for food.

Police Chief Frank Adderley said he hoped the arrest would lead to a better solution for _____, who can't stay in shelters in Broward County because of his sex offender status.

"Maybe getting him the help he needs to address his mental issues is the answer,'' Adderley said Friday.

Brawley credited Adderley and the Veterans Administration for wanting to help _____. He could be transferred from jail to a bed in the V.A.'s "crisis unit'' as early as Tuesday, if a judge agrees, Brawley said. The State Attorney's office still must weigh in on whether the felony charge will be pursued.

As a U.S. Marine who served in Vietnam, _____ is eligible for benefits, Brawley said.

_____'s public defender in the murder case, now a judge, said in an interview last week that _____'s Vietnam experience was horrific, including civilian casualties and the deaths of his comrades. Brodsky said _____ has paranoid schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder.

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"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

MD - Wary of predators -- and politicians

Original Article

Discrimination based on a label? Doesn't this man investigate the criminal histories of those who come to him begging for help, due to the draconian laws? Apparently not, so he is basing everything simply on a label, and the hype spread by the misleading media and politicians.


By Dan Rodricks

Since June 2005, I have had some kind of contact -- telephone conversation, face-to-face meeting, e-mail exchange, letter exchange -- with about 5,000 convicted criminals or their relatives, counselors and friends. (The number might be closer to 6,000, but I stopped keeping count a couple of years ago.)

Some of the contact has been substantive, providing material for this column on the challenges facing ex-offenders in the transition from prison to free society.

A lot of the contact has been perfunctory -- the ex-offenders give me their names and addresses, and I mail them a list of companies that might hire them or agencies that might help them. (Note to those who have contacted me in the last six weeks: We are updating the list and will get it to you as soon as possible.) In my years of trying to steer ex-offenders to re-entry programs or jobs, I have heard every kind of story, from the 20-something East Baltimore heroin dealer who wanted to "stop sellin' poison to my people" to the West Baltimore father who wanted to get his son off the street and into an apprenticeship program.

The men and women who called here had been convicted of all kinds of crimes: armed robbery, aggravated assault, forging checks, possession with intent to distribute heroin -- and mostly the latter. Tired of prison, they wanted to find work not prohibited by law. It's hard to say how many were earnest, but most certainly seemed to be when they first contacted me.

And I was willing to help them, to the extent that I could.

But I haven't been so willing to help sex offenders.

About a year into writing columns on this subject, I started getting calls for help from middle-aged men who had been convicted of various degrees of sexual crimes -- possession of child pornography, assault, child molestation -- and I had a bad reaction. You might call it the creeps.

I didn't want to help them, but more importantly, I didn't think I could. While some Maryland companies have given jobs to recovering alcoholics, drug addicts, former drug dealers and car thieves, it didn't seem likely they would hire someone on the state sex offender registry.

Plus, those companies, all admirable for their willingness to give second chances, didn't deserve sex offenders at their door. So I wasn't about to refer any of them. My initial interest in all this was in getting drug dealers off the streets of Baltimore, not in helping middle-aged rapists and perverts find jobs.

I just didn't want to be associated with second chances for sexual predators.
- Well, did you investigate them further and find out their real criminal history?  I bet not!  If you would, many on the registry do deserve a second chance, but you have also pointed out a major problem with the registry and laws. If someone is one the registry, even if it's a young kid who had consensual sex with their boy/girl friend, then if you do not investigate them, you are simply basing your decision on a label and nothing more.

I'm sure that would be the reaction of most people, even those of you who have expressed general sympathy for ex-offenders seeking employment. Most readers who've given an opinion about this agree that the United States needs more corrections in corrections, stronger re-entry planning and more opportunity for adults once released from our prisons.

But I doubt the majority feel that way about sexual offenders.

It's understandable. The nature of their crimes, especially those involving children, causes an acutely visceral reaction. Plus, public opinion has been stoked by grandstanding politicians for years. So we have online registries and community notification policies, in the name of public safety. We have federal laws on sexual offenders, too.

But beware, fellow citizens. This winter in Annapolis, we have dozens of new bills -- the count the other day was 75 and growing -- to toughen the many sexual offender laws that already exist. It's an election year, coming on the heels of the highly publicized kidnapping and murder of an 11-year-old girl, and filing a bill on sexual offenders is a tough-on-crime guarantee. The cry is, literally, "Do something!" And that, apparently, could mean anything: expand the online offender registry to include juveniles and anyone who committed crimes back in the 1980s and even the 1970s, eliminate good behavior credits for sex offenders in prison, and require lifetime monitoring of some offenders.

As I've admitted: I am neither sympathetic toward nor inclined to help sexual offenders. But we appear to be piling on, so that those who successfully change their thinking and their behavior might never get up and get going again. When so many politicians, including the governor, exploit an issue such as this, that's when I really get the creeps.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

GA - HB-571 - Sexual offenders; classification; change and enact provisions

Click the image to read the entire bill

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin