Thursday, April 22, 2010
FL - Media vigilantes discussing the sex offenders placed into motels by Ron Book of the homeless trust, using tax payer money!
The last sentence sums it all up pretty well, it's prison outside of prison!
By Rupa Shenoy
Moose Lake - Three fences topped with razor wire line the perimeter of the state sex offender facility.
Inside are two steel and concrete buildings that house more than 400 men who have completed sentences for sex crimes. The men are still behind bars because county judges found they were too dangerous to return to communities and placed them under civil commitment.
After weeks of debate, state lawmakers agreed in March to allot $45.7 million for an expansion of the Moose Lake facility that officials say is vital for treatment. It will allow the program to keep pace with Minnesota's growing population of people under civil commitment. Taxpayers will have to spend more in two years, and at regular intervals afterward, to stay at that pace.
As the expansion gets underway, advocates for the offenders are questioning the treatment program's true purpose -- and the conditions under which the patients are kept. The ACLU of Minnesota (Contact) represents men at Moose Lake who allege it is more like a prison than a treatment center.
The Moose Lake facility houses more than 400 men who have completed sentences for sex crimes. Each man costs the state $328 a day.
- So, $328 per person for 400 men is $131,200 per month and $47,888,000 per year.
Dennis Benson, director of the state's sex offender treatment program, said the men at Moose Lake are patients, not inmates. Each man spends between six and ten hours a week in therapy -- mostly group discussion sessions, he said.
"Treatment goes way beyond the two hours of group that they spend everyday," Benson said. "We're documenting how they interact when they go to their work portion of the day. We document if we see something in the visiting room. Clinical staff will tell you someone can do fine in a treatment room but can they carry that behavior over to the gym? That approach is very different to even a sex offender treatment program at a prison."
At Moose Lake, men walk through the halls in street clothes. A few stand in groups, talking quietly.
But County courts considered them too dangerous to put back in communities. Judges placed them under civil commitment, allowing the state to hold the men in treatment indefinitely.
Every patient has to take responsibility for their crimes. Therapists check if they're telling the truth with regular polygraph tests, Benson said.
But the state has no authority to force sex offenders into treatment. About 90 refuse to participate.
Among them is _____. He was in pre-treatment therapy at Moose Lake but stopped participating.
"Anybody can say they're providing treatment, but if you're never giving anybody the opportunity to be released, what's the treatment then?" asks _____, 38.
_____ said he was convicted twice for a forced sexual encounter -- one of a woman, in 1990, and 1992, a teenage girl. He said he spent four years in prison and was released in 1996.
_____ said he did not register as a sex offender and was sent back to prison. When he finished that sentence, a Cass County judge ruled he was still a danger to the community and civilly committed him.
_____ complains that Moose Lake is designed not to release patients.
"The treatment program right now is so vague," _____ said. "They don't really talk about any sex offender issues that a person should be addressing."
"You go sit in there and tell them what's on your mind and all they do is write stuff down."
Whether _____ and others at Moose Lake are in treatment is key part of their lawsuit. The U.S. and Minnesota Supreme courts have ruled that civil commitment is legal, as long as those committed are in treatment.
"It is a question of whether or not these conditions are reasonably related to therapeutic goals. We argue they are not," said Teresa Nelson, legal counsel for the ACLU.
"Depending on what the court rules in our case, that will have an impact on whether or not the program is found constitutional."
Instead of treatment, _____ spends most of his days reading books checked out from the library or watching TV.
"We spend a lot of time in our unit," he said. "There's not a lot of activities made available for us."
"Once you serve your prison sentence you'd think you be treated better than we are here," he said. "It's like being back in prison."
As an example, _____ points to his room, which he calls a cell. He said it looks just like the ones he had while in prison.
Most cells in Moose Lake are shared by two men. There are either 68 or 98 cells in each living unit.
There's a living unit for patients under 20 and another for elderly or infirmed patients.
Patients are locked in their rooms from 9:45 at night to 6:25 in the morning. The cells are largely made of welded steel, with two windows about five inches wide and four feet high. Patients double bunk and share a single toilet. They have a writing surface.
"They can have what they can put in two foot lockers," Benson said. "They can have a TV. They pay for their cable charge. They pay for the TV too."
Outside the cell is a large two-tier open space with metal chairs, tables, a ping pong table, and a row of payphones. Showers are on each side.
"So this is kind of their life," Benson said. "So we have to occupy their time. You can see some of them put puzzles together, some of them play chess. This becomes their world."
The new money approved by the legislature will fund a 100,000-square-foot addition to the Moose Lake treatment facility. It will include a new dining area, additional treatment rooms, and security offices.
The improvements will allow Moose Lake keep pace with a growing population of sex offenders. Officials figure it will give them the room they need to provide treatment -- but just for two years.
Benson said about half of patients participated in treatment a few years ago, but today 90 percent do.
In part that is because patients can make progress by graduating to St. Peter, the state's other sex offender treatment facility, he said. It offers a new treatment stage that prepares patients for release.
"That's the final stage of treatment," Benson said. "We now have five people that the courts have placed in that program and that's brand new in the last two years. ... So I think that's given a lot of hope to these folks."
No one knows when or if someone in the treatment program will be released. Until that happens, the population of civilly committed people will only grow. And the cost to taxpayers will grow with it.
By Gordon Robertson
THE mother of a young man who was the victim of a bogus rape claim has told of her “living hell” while her innocent son was locked up for a year.
Tearful _____ from Gartness in Airdrie suffered the torment of seeing her boy’s life being threatened when he was behind bars.
For 12 long months, as 22-year-old _____ was remanded in Addiewell and Barlinnie jails, his mother went through a nightmare. It was as if she had been in prison with him.
_____ knew he had committed no crime and was bolstered by the overwhelming support of friends and work colleagues.
But the long wait for his innocence to be proved in a court of law was almost unbearable, especially as she knew what _____ was going through behind bars.
“It was a living nightmare to start with and it just got worse and worse,” she told the Advertiser. “He was taken to Addiewell and had boiling water thrown over him and razor blades thrown at him. They tried to set him on fire."
“They moved him to Barlinnie and I was horrified. It’s a nightmare to see your son in a place like that."
“He was put in a sex offenders unit and in some ways he was safer there, but he was in with some terrible people.”
_____ was falsely accused – along with pal _____ – of raping a woman at knifepoint in March 2009.
At a High Court trial in Falkirk last month a jury took just one hour to find the pair not guilty.
_____, who was in court that day, felt a mixture of relief and joy when she heard the verdict and ran to cuddle her son and lead him from court just seconds after the judge told him he was free to go.
It was a long journey from the day the nightmare began to unfold for both _____ and _____, whose story we told last month.
_____ recalled the moments it all started, when police came to her home and arrested _____.
“It was horrendous. It was quarter past three and the police came to the door and grabbed him and put him up against the wall. There was about five of them. They took him away and he had no shoes on. They were completely rude to me and wouldn’t answer any questions and then eventually said they were going to charge him with rape."
“It was unbelievable. I thought ‘they’ve got the wrong person’. It was surreal.”
With _____ locked up and charged with such a serious offence, _____ is sure some people thought the worst.
But the support of family, friends and colleagues in the HR department of call centre firm beCogent helped her get through it.
“My mum phoned everybody she knew to tell them what was going on and they were all quite supportive. I had nothing but absolute support, especially from my colleagues at work. I am quite sure some people jumped to conclusions, but people who know _____ knew he couldn’t have done that.”
_____ is still furious at the woman who put her son through such an ordeal. She would now like to do something to help change the law to try to stop false allegations of rape getting to court.
“There is still a great deal of anger,” _____ admitted. “I think she is the lowest of the low and she is doing genuine rape victims no favours whatsoever."
“It is hard enough for women who have genuinely been raped to have the confidence to come forward."
“I want to do something that will help make sure other mothers don’t have to go through what I have gone through."
“I am not sure what I can do, but I would back calls for the woman to be named if the man is found not guilty. That would be a start.”
A GRIMSBY woman claimed she was raped by a friend – and then admitted making it up, a court heard.
Kelly Walsh, 22, rang a helpline from a telephone box in Freeman Street to claim she had been attacked by _____, 45, at his home.
The operator alerted the police and Mr _____ was arrested, subjected to "intimate sampling" and held in custody for hours.
But Walsh – who was taken to a specialist police rape unit in Hull and given counselling – changed her story and admitted lying, saying: "I don't know why I did it."
She pleaded guilty to a charge of perverting the course of justice by making the rape claim at Grimsby Crown Court and was sentenced to a year in jail, suspended for two years.
Jeremy Evans, prosecuting, said the National Domestic Violence Helpline received a call on January 22 from a woman stating she had been raped.
The helpline operator alerted Humberside Police and officers met Walsh in Freeman Street, where she accused Mr _____ of raping her.
She told police she was in a relationship with serving soldier _____ and said her grandmother had died a few days earlier – claims which were later found out to be untrue.
The court heard how Walsh and Mr _____ had lived at The Salvation Army Hostel in Brighowgate, Grimsby, two years ago.
They were in a relationship which broke up when Mr _____ accused her of stealing money from him.
On the date of her false rape claim, she visited Mr _____'s flat, had a shower and went to bed while Mr _____ stayed up watching television.
Walsh claimed she was woken up by Mr _____ removing the quilt and lying on top of her and said he then raped her.
In interview, Mr _____ denied the allegation and said he had offered Walsh a place to stay. He said they had had sex, but it was consensual.
When police spoke to Walsh's mother, she confirmed the grandmother was still alive, the court heard. The defendant was confronted with the facts by police and she changed her story, telling officers: "I don't know why I did it."
She said she had not taken her medication for depression.
The court heard she had 15 convictions for a total of 32 offences of dishonesty.
For Walsh, Richard Butters said she was responded well to counselling and probation officers' support for her offending. This has included a trip to Alton Towers, as well as abseil and rock climbing experiences.
He added: "She is a far better individual than before."
Sentencing, Judge Simon Jack told her: "It led to a man being arrested by police and being interviewed and intimate sampling and put in custody for 24 hours and it was another 24 hours before he was released. That must have been a terrible experience for him."
Walsh will continue to live supervised at a bail hostel in Leeds.
Man, are all cops in Florida perverts? Sure looks that way.
By Amy L. Edwards
James Gilbert pleaded no contest to having sexual communications with a former co-worker’s teen daughter.
A former trooper accused of having sexual communications with the teenager daughter of another Florida Highway Patrol employee was sentenced to 18 months in state prison Wednesday.
James E. Gilbert, 46, had pleaded no contest to 10 counts of solicitation of a minor via a computer.
During a more than two-hour hearing Wednesday, Gilbert told Orange Circuit Court Judge Marc Lubet that he was sorry.
"I feel bad for what I did," Gilbert said. "What I did was wrong."
But Lubet also questioned how truly remorseful Gilbert is and found him guilty. The judge also sentenced him to eight years' sex-offender probation. Gilbert will have to register as a sex offender.
Gilbert was a trooper with FHP for more than 15 years when he was arrested in December 2008.
He was accused of sending hundreds of text messages, some sexual in nature, to a 17-year-old during a span of around two weeks.
In a statement filed earlier in court, the girl's mother said Gilbert talked about taking the teen to a cabin in Tennessee where they would "take things slow."
The teen told an investigator she told Gilbert he shouldn't talk to her that way. She said Gilbert responded by saying things such as, "It's your choice, even if anybody found out, if I still want to do something or if you did, nobody can stop us; there's nothing wrong with it."
On Wednesday, Gilbert said he didn't have any intention of following through with any of the statements he made to the teen.
The victim, now 18, attended today's sentencing, and her attorney told the judge that she is afraid of Gilbert and thought his testimony was angry and resentful.
Lubet said he didn't think Gilbert posed a future threat to the public. Lubet also said he felt the 10 years Gilbert potentially faced were too harsh given the circumstances.
He noted Gilbert had a stellar record as a trooper and didn't have a prior criminal history.