Monday, May 10, 2010

GA - The Business Of Incarceration

Original Article

05/10/2010

By Tom Crawford

Georgia operates the fifth-largest prison system in the nation. Even after reductions in the workforce, the corrections department has nearly 13,000 employees. But is that enough?

Georgia’s prisons have had a bit of an image problem for a long time. Robert E. Burns’ best-selling book, I Am a Fugitive From a Georgia Chain Gang, brought the brutalities of the state’s penal system front and center to national attention in the 1930s. Burns’ account was adapted as an Oscar-nominated movie starring Paul Muni, and the book remains in print nearly 80 years after it was first published.

The book’s description of prisoner treatment was so horrific that when Burns, who escaped twice from chain gangs, was apprehended in New Jersey in 1932, the state refused all demands that he be extradited to Georgia to finish serving his sentence.

In the 1990s, then-governor Zell Miller appointed one of his political allies, former state senator Wayne Garner, to be the state corrections commissioner.

Shortly after he was appointed commissioner, Garner remarked that one-third of Georgia’s prisoners “ain’t fit to kill and I’ll be there to accommodate them.” Those words were recounted often after Garner and other prison system officials took part in a 1996 “sweep” of Hays State Prison in Trion.

According to sworn statements from several corrections employees at Hays, that tactical search for prison contraband quickly turned into a “blood bath.” Handcuffed inmates were beaten by corrections officers, who slammed them face-first into cinder-block walls and concrete floors. At least one prisoner was dragged across the floor by his hair.

One of the prison guards later recalled: “Blood went up the wall. Blood went all over the ground, all over the inmate. I heard it. I heard a sickening cracking sound.” A prison counselor testified that after viewing the beatings, “I went to the restroom and threw up.” Another prison employee said in a deposition: “You ain’t seen so much blood on folks. ... People had been beaten real bad with all the blood flowing.”

After the sweep of Hays Prison was concluded, Garner and his group adjourned for a chicken dinner at which, according to yet another deposition, ‘’Everybody was high-fiving and shaking hands and congratulating each other and patting each other on the back and bragging about how much butt you kicked.’’

That incident triggered massive media coverage and a federal lawsuit that the Department of Corrections eventually settled for $285,000.

After Roy Barnes became governor in 1999, Garner was replaced as the man in charge of corrections, and things calmed down somewhat. Over the past decade, the news about Georgia’s prison system has been less about beating up inmates and more about beating down the costs of securing an ever-growing prison population with fewer employees and lagging budget increases.

The state now operates the fifth-largest prison system in the nation, locking down nearly 60,000 inmates. Even after several reductions in the workforce, the corrections department still employs more people – nearly 13,000 – than any other state agency save the Board of Regents. The various facilities managed by corrections are valued at more than $2.3 billion.

Population Surge
Clearly, prisons are one of Georgia’s biggest businesses. They’ve had to be to keep up with the waves of people incarcerated through the state’s get-tough approach on crime. Zell Miller’s signing of “two strikes and you’re out” legislation in the 1990s spurred a surge in the prison population, as did the passage of rigorous sex crime laws by the new Republican legislative majority in 2006.

While the state was locking up larger numbers of people, however, there was not a corresponding growth in the budget for corrections, in part because of recessions that crippled state revenue collections in 2002-03 and 2009-10.

In fiscal year 2000, the inmate population was just under 42,000, and the corrections budget was $887.8 million. Over the next decade, the inmate population grew by nearly 43 percent but the department’s budget increased by just 27 percent to slightly over $1.1 billion. The number of employees on payroll to keep those prisoners locked up declined by about 1,600, or 11 percent of the workforce.

The department, currently headed by Commissioner Brian Owens, has tried to cope with the declining pool of resources by using the same kind of cost-cutting and right-sizing techniques deployed by many private businesses.

With his short-cropped silver hair and his no-nonsense style, Owen looks exactly like what he is: a “lifer” who has spent his entire career in the corrections department.

I started out as a parole officer, chasing parolees through the streets of the housing projects of Atlanta many, many years ago,” Owens recounts. He worked his way steadily up the administrative ladder and was named commissioner in January 2009 when his predecessor, James Donald, was appointed to the state parole board by Gov. Sonny Perdue.

In 2005, the department retained the consulting firm Rosser International (formerly known as Rosser Fabrap) to develop a master plan for the agency’s physical assets. The Rosser report concluded that eight of the state’s 36 prisons, mostly converted mental health facilities built during the 1930s, were no longer worth the money required to maintain and operate them.

The department has since closed five of the older prisons and is scheduled to close two more during the next 18 months. Several detention and diversion centers have also been closed or consolidated with other facilities during the same period. Overall, the department slimmed down from 129 to 94 facilities from 2004 to 2009.

We’re replacing old infrastructure that’s expensive with modern infrastructure that doesn’t require as many people to run,” Owens says.

Rather than build new prisons from the ground up, the department has designed “fast-track” buildings – which have 256 beds apiece – that are situated on the grounds of existing prison facilities. Another 1,400 beds have been squeezed in by “triple-bunking” some of the prisons.

We’ve got 6,000-plus beds in fast-track units, avoiding $211 million in costs by not having to build new facilities,” Owens estimates.

While it was upgrading its physical stock, the corrections department also assessed the security needs of the inmate population. It determined that the state was trying to operate too many high-security facilities, which require more officers to control the inmates, and not enough medium-security prisons where fewer employees are necessary. The decision was made to “re-mission” eight prisons in the high-security category to medium-level facilities, each of which requires 40 fewer staffers to operate.

We took a hard look at our population and found that, over the years, inmates work their way down in security level,” Owens says. “They start out perhaps at the high-security level and work their way down to a lower security level based on their behavior. We had too many high-security prisons and not enough medium-security prisons.”

As the prisons have been consolidated and reclassified, the inmate population also appears to have stabilized at the current 60,000 level.

We have seen a general flattening of the prison population,” Owens says. “You’ve seen the double-digit growth in our prison population for two decades. What’s happening now is the number of inmates coming into the system is leveling off.”

Roughly 10 percent of the state’s inmates are housed in three private prisons that have been open since the late 1990s. Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) operates the Wheeler Correctional Facility in Alamo and the Coffee Correctional Facility in Nicholls, while Cornell Companies operates the D. Ray James Prison in Folkston.

The expenses of keeping an inmate in a private facility are about the same as a public prison: $45 to $47 per inmate per day. The state does not have to incur the capital costs of building the prisons, however, and is not on the hook to provide pension benefits for the private prison employees.

While the D. Ray James Prison is exiting the state system so that it can house federal inmates, another private prison is scheduled to begin operations in Milledgeville during 2012. The corrections department says there are plans to add up to 750 new beds at both the Wheeler and Coffee facilities.

While all of these administrative workarounds have enabled prisons to continue operating with fewer employees and diminishing budget dollars, there are concerns among observers outside the wire that the system may be packed a little too tightly.

Breaking Point?
Almost two decades of tough-on-crime, mandatory sentencing laws have resulted in a prison system that’s bulging at the seams with no relief in sight,” contends Sara Totonchi, executive director of the Southern Center for Human Rights. “I’m deeply concerned about the volatile nature of Georgia’s prisons.”

State Sen. Bill Jackson (R-Martinez), who served for two years on the state board of corrections while taking a break from the Legislature, concurs: “It seems to me that a spread-out prison population would be safer than one congregated up in a few buildings. That’s my deep concern.”

Rep. Alan Powell (D-Hartwell) for several years headed a House subcommittee that oversaw the corrections department budget.

Our system works quite well, honestly, because of the quality of rank-and-file employees,” Powell says.
- So why is there so much violence and death in the prison system?

But he adds this cautionary note: “They’re housing more inmates at roughly the same money. How they’ve done it is putting the state in jeopardy. If you raise the number of inmates in a facility and you have fewer guards, you may be setting yourself up for problems in the future.”

It’s a legitimate concern, but I think we’ve strategically managed our capacity and our people so we’re okay,” Owens responds.

Are we reaching a breaking point?” he asks rhetorically. “If we go any further, yes, quite frankly. You go any deeper and we’re going to have to let some guys out. The concern is in 2012. That’s when $97 million in federal stimulus funds goes away. If that hole is not filled, that’s serious prison shutdown.”

Economic Impact
While the closing of antiquated prisons and related facilities has enabled the department to operate more cost effectively, there has also been an impact on economic development. In many rural communities, the local prison or detention center is also the largest employer.

As the old South Georgia saying goes, “We grow two things down here: prisons and onions.”

During a recent legislative budget hearing, Sen. Tommie Williams (R-Lyons) implored Owens: “When you look at RFPs [requests for proposals] for future prisons, you look at those counties that have lost some prisons as well as those counties that have real high unemployment rates. Prisons are economic development to these rural counties, too. When you lose a prison, that county’s lost a lot of sales taxes, jobs, et cetera.”

One way or another, Georgia will always have prisons, and there probably will always be a need for new ones.

When the economy is tough, crime goes up,” Rep. David Lucas (D-Macon) observes. “So what are we going to do with these people?

One of the major criticisms of the corrections system in Georgia, as well as other states, is that too many people are being kept behind bars who could be diverted into non-prison alternative programs. About 57 percent of the inmates in Georgia prisons are serving sentences for a violent crime or a sex offense. Most of the remaining 43 percent are in prison for a property crime, such as burglary, or a drug conviction.

Rather than releasing low-risk people on parole, the state has chosen to overcrowd the largest prisons by triple-bunking and packing people in like sardines,” Totonchi says.

When Perdue appointed retired Army General James Donald as corrections commissioner in 2003, Donald remarked that “no state has ever built its way out of a prison crisis, and I submit to you that Georgia cannot afford to either.”

Fear And Loathing
Donald said the state needed to make a distinction between “prisoners that we’re afraid of,” the ones who commit violent felonies, and “those that we’re mad at,” such as non-violent first offenders and persons sentenced for drug offenses.

We do a good job of keeping people – we need to do a better job of changing them,” Donald said at the time.

There has been some movement in that direction to where today the department is responsible for more people who are on the outside than are behind bars, supervising about 150,000 probationers.

The department has been closing probation diversion centers and replacing them with other alternative sentencing options, such as day reporting centers (DRCs) that provide drug and mental health treatment for non-violent offenders. Surveillance officers check with employers to make sure that participants are at work and that fines and child support payments are being collected.

A probation substance abuse treatment center (PSATC) opened at Northwest Georgia’s Walker State Prison in 2008. The department has implemented a Prison Industry Enhancement (PIE) program at Smith State Prison in Glennville and Georgia State Prison in Reidsville where inmates can voluntarily work with a private employer, Bone Safety Sign Co., to produce sign products.

As it has been doing for years, the corrections department also has 40 inmates working at a license plate warehouse at Telfair State Prison in Helena, although there have been discussions at the General Assembly of possibly privatizing the manufacture of auto tags.

At the end of the day, 21,500 people are going to walk out of prison this year,” Owens notes. “If we just warehouse them for two, five, 10, 15 years and don’t give them a skill, don’t give them a work ethic, don’t provide them with the discipline and the structure to get themselves up every morning and go to work, how much better off is society going to be?
- And how many die each year to inmate violence or guard violence?



The Stanford Prison Experiment (Wikipedia, Website)


ME - Changes sought in federal sex offender act

Original Article

Visit the site above and take the poll.

05/10/2010

By Mal Leary

State rejects provisions as costly, ‘draconian’

AUGUSTA - Maine officials say the federal Adam Walsh law, which sets requirements for sex offender registries — including those for juvenile offenders — is unworkable and should be changed.

Members of the state’s congressional delegation are listening.

It just does not work,” said Sen. Stan Gerzofsky (Contact), D-Brunswick, co-chairman of the Legislature’s Criminal Justice Committee. “On our committee we have spent a lot of time trying to come up with a law that works for Maine, and Adam Walsh does not.”

Gerzofsky expects the state will seek another one-year extension to comply with the law but doubts the new Legislature elected in the fall will go along with the “draconian” provisions of the law that have been rejected by the current and past legislatures. Only one state, Ohio, has complied with the federal law.
- Not exactly! See video here.

Congress should change the law and let the states do what works for that state,” Gerzofsky said. “We have looked at what it would cost to comply with the act and what we get under the Byrne grants and I just don’t think it is worth it.”

Byrne grants provide funding to state and local police for a wide array of projects from equipment purchases to paying for special enforcement details.

Attorney General Janet T. Mills (Contact) agreed with Gerzofsky and said many other attorneys general across the country have expressed concern about portions of the Adam Walsh law.

All states have a great deal of difficulty imposing the very tough restrictions on juveniles that the act requires,” she said.

For example, the law requires a three-tier registry in which juveniles convicted of a single offense with another juvenile must register and regularly report their residence and other information — such as the make and model of their car and its license plate — for life.

That is just one of the concerns,” Mills said.

The 2006 law is named for a 6-year-old Florida boy who was abducted at a department store in Florida in 1981. He was later found dead.

The law requires states to have lifetime registration for the most serious of offenders, such as those convicted of sexual abuse or aggravated sexual abuse; abusive sexual contact against a minor less than 13 years old; or an offense involving kidnapping of a minor.

But the laws and definitions of sex crimes vary greatly by state, and creating a registry based on the risk of a person offending would be very expensive, experts have told Maine lawmakers.

Members of the state’s congressional delegation say they are open to some changes in the law as urged by state officials, but none supports a total repeal of the law. There is agreement that serious sex offenders should be on a registry and be required to report where they live for a long period of time.

I don’t think anyone disputes the goals of the Adam Walsh act,” U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe (Contact), R-Maine, said in an interview. “But there are many states having a hard time, as is Maine, in complying with the law, and we should look at what the states are saying.”

She said other states are in the same position as Maine — that is, where state courts have ruled against portions of the sex offender registry laws. She said at a minimum Congress should consider giving the states more time to work through the complicated issues before facing the possibility of a reduction in federal assistance.

One common situation discussed by Maine lawmakers and those in other states is the 18-year-old college freshman with a 17-year-old girlfriend convicted of having sex and having to register for life as the result of one violation of law.

Not that I condone that, but that is obviously very different from an adult preying on a child,” U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (Contact), R-Maine, said in an interview. “Those issues do need to be recognized and worked out, but I think it is important to remember that this law serves a very important purpose as far as protecting our children.”

She agreed with Snowe that Congress should at the least give the states more time to resolve issues through negotiations with the Justice Department before changing the law.

U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud (Contact) said the fact that a large number of states are not in compliance with the law should be a clear message to Congress that it should consider making some changes.

I really think that Congress will need to take a look at this and see where we can make changes that make sense,” the 2nd District Democrat said. “But I think everyone agrees we have to hold sex offenders accountable.”

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (Contact) said she was not in Congress when the law was passed. She said it is becoming increasingly clear the law needs to be changed.

I don’t think Maine should be punished for adhering to our own Constitution,” the 1st District Democrat said.
- Amen!

The state has until July 1 to apply for another waiver from the Justice Department. Mills thinks it will be granted. But as the law stands the state will face sanctions a year from July if it does not change its sex offender registry to comply with the Adam Walsh law or if Congress does not change provisions in the law.


MI - Michigan not alone in seeking changes to sex offender registry

Original Article

05/10/2010

By Ed Brayton

The state of Michigan is not the only state struggling to comply with the changes required by the federal Adam Walsh Act to the state’s sex offender registry. The Bangor Daily News reports that Maine is having a difficult time with those requirements as well and may ask for a delay in implementation of those changes.

Legislators from that state call many of the changes required “unworkable” and “draconian and say they have not yet found a way to comply with the law in a way that makes sense. One of the major problems there, as here, is how to treat juvenile offenders and those in so-called Romeo and Juliet relationships.


FL - This American Life - 407: The Bridge

Original Article | Listen (Full Audio File)

05/07/2010

We bring you stories of bridges from three different countries, including one in China that's famous for its massive size and its high suicide rate. One man's job is to patrol the bridge, looking for jumpers. You can read entries from the watchman's blog here.

Prologue.
Ira speaks with Richard Dorsey, who became famous in 2004 when police learned that for years Richard and a friend had been living inside of a Chicago bridge. And this was no ordinary bridge. (4 1/2 minutes)

Act One. Troubled Bridge Over Water.

There is a four mile long bridge in Naan-jing China, famous for how many people jump off to commit suicide. In 2003, a man named Chen Sah began spending all of his weekends on the bridge, trying to single handedly stop the jumpers. Reporter Mike Paterniti tells his story of meeting Mr. Chen.

You can read some of Mr. Chen's blog posts about the bridge here. A story Paterniti wrote about Mr. Chen appears in GQ Magazine. (15 minutes)

Song: "The Bridge", Dolly Parton

Act Two. Bridge and Tunnel.

In the Middle East, hundreds and hundreds of tunnels connect the Gaza strip and Egypt, allowing supplies to bypass the Israeli blockade against Hamas-controlled Gaza. Producer Nancy Updike speaks with Ira about the tunnels, and plays tape from an interview she conducted with a tunnel owner.

Song: "Colonel Bogey (from Bridge Over the River Kwai)", L'Orchestra Cinematic

Act Three. Throw the Book at Them.

Isaiah Thompson tells the story of the Julia Tuttle Causeway in Miami, a bridge that became home to a population of sex offenders, after a powerful lobbyist named Ron Book helped make it illegal for them live almost anywhere else in the city. Isaiah Thompson is a reporter and columnist for the Philadelphia City Paper. (20 minutes)

Song: "There's No Home for You Here", The White Stripes

The following is only the Julia Tuttle Causeway portion of the audio!

Playlist Link


UK - Virgin Auction - Auctioning off their virginity (aka Prostitution)

Original Article

WOMEN:


MEN:


DE - Offender registry called too strict - Delaware's list includes juveniles as young as 9

Original Article

Just remember folks, Karma sucks. And when it comes back and bites you in the butt, don't go screaming the laws are unfair.

05/10/2010

By J.L. MILLER

Their youthful faces stare from the pages of Delaware’s online sex offender registry, some obviously scared, some scowling, some expressionless.

These are photographs of children who committed sex crimes. They are branded, a condemnation that can haunt them forever.

Delaware has some of the youngest sex offender registrants in the nation – one as young as 9 – according to backers of legislation that would give Family Court judges some discretion in deciding which juveniles belong on the registry and which do not.

In registering offenders who are younger than 14, Delaware’s registry system is more stringent than required by the federal Adam Walsh Act, a law that some states complain is too strict.

Advocates of the legislation cite research indicating that children convicted of a sex offense are unlikely to commit another one. Opponents cite studies that find just the opposite.

Due to political, legal and social concerns, the push to give Family Court judges a say in the matter has run into a wall of opposition.

Attorney General Beau Biden (Contact) opposes the legislation. Election-minded legislators don't want to give opponents the opportunity to paint them as soft on sex offenders. Publicity about the abuse charges against pediatrician Dr. Earl Bradley has made the issue of sexual offenses even more politically toxic.

"I can't even get it out of committee," said Rep. Melanie George (Email), D-Bear, referring to the bill she introduced last year that would give Family Court judges the power to decide if children younger than 14 should be listed on the registry. It also would give them discretion to decide whether juveniles older than 14 should be listed if they are convicted of certain lower-level offenses.

'Made my life difficult'

A law like that might have kept "Kevin's" name off the registry. But thanks to what critics say is Delaware's one-size-fits-all system, he's a marked man.

Now in his 20s and living in another state, Kevin agreed to an e-mail interview on the condition that his real name and certain details of his case be withheld.

Kevin's name does not appear on the sex offender registry of his current state, but his Delaware listing is easily found on the Web.

"All you have to do is Google me and the top hit is [my name on] Delaware's registry," Kevin wrote.

At age 13, Kevin was caught "messing around" with a younger child and was convicted of two misdemeanor sex offenses. "We were just kids," he said, describing the encounter as consensual but declining to go into detail. Juvenile records are sealed and not available for review.

Kevin's listing as a moderate-risk offender put him on the registry -- listings of low-risk offenders can be accessed only by law enforcement -- and being on the public registry has followed him into adulthood.

Like all registered sex offenders, Kevin must provide his name, date of birth, address, employer, driver's license number, Social Security number, professional licenses, passport, immigration status and school affiliations to the offender registry. He must update any change in these details of his life within three days or face a felony charge. His photo, name, physical description, address, car license number and crime are on display to anyone. There are restrictions on where he can live, and his status is a red flag on job applications.

"All this has done is made my life difficult. It's not like the public is being protected. I was just 13," Kevin said.

Kevin said the incident was his one and only legal offense. His name did not appear during a search of Delaware Superior Court and Court of Common Pleas records.

It's tales such as Kevin's that bother Lisa Minutola, chief of legal services for the Public Defender's Office.

Minutola has spoken with a few youth offenders whose names still appear on the registry years later, and "they definitely had horror stories of not being able to get employment, not being able to get an education," she said.

Age limits

According to Minutola, the Delaware registry has one person who was listed at age 9 who is now in his teens. Three individuals were placed on the registry at age 10, she said. The registry, which has 2,725 entries, isn't searchable by age.

The Adam Walsh Act does not require offenders younger than 14 to be placed on the registry; offenders ages 14 to 17 must be placed on the registry only if they commit certain serious offenses.

Only six states actually define the youngest age at which an offender must be registered, "which leaves open the possibility that even very young children who evidence sexual behavior problems may be subject to registration," according to the Center for Sex Offender Management, a project of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Of the six states that do define the youngest registration age, North Carolina sets the limit at 11; Indiana, Ohio, Idaho and Oklahoma begin registering offenders at 14, and in South Dakota the minimum age is 15.

Twenty states -- Delaware is not among them -- have instituted special juvenile procedures or time limits that can remove a juvenile from the list once a set period of time has elapsed and no further offenses have occurred.

Minutola wants Delaware judges to have more freedom when the federal law does not apply.

"What we're asking is for those juveniles that Adam Walsh doesn't even require registration for ... that the court would have the discretion to have a hearing to determine whether or not the juvenile should be registered," she said.

That's not the way Biden sees it.

Biden took steps to strengthen Delaware's sex offender registry soon after he took office -- and he's not amenable to legislation he believes would weaken it.

"Juvenile sex offenders do re-offend," and that's why they belong on the registry, Biden said.

"The public needs to know. The public has a right to know," he said. "No one's been able to provide us any [examples of] so-called miscarriages of justice."
- Well, if this is true, we also have a right to know about all other criminals too, and that includes any crime, being it prostitution, gangs, drugs, DUI, thieves, murderers, etc.  So when politicians commit a DUI or some other crime, they should be publicly shamed as well.  I mean, if it's okay for sex offenders, then it's good for all other criminals also.

Only six to eight other states give judges discretion on placing juveniles on offender registries, said Deputy Attorney General Christina Showalter, adding that a judge would not have enough information on the offender to make such a ruling at the time of conviction.

According to Biden and Showalter, keeping juveniles off the registry or easing restrictions would threaten public safety.

"These are young predators," Showalter said. If they aren't placed on the list or their names are expunged, "they go on to be camp counselors, baby sitters ... and that's the most chilling part of this."

Grier Weeks, executive director of the National Association to Protect Children, agrees.

"There's always a debate about where the discretion should reside, with prosecutors or with the judiciary. I'm sure these lawmakers are well-intentioned and they see this as a problem," Weeks said.

"It's not a black-and-white issue. Are there juveniles who commit sex crimes who do not belong on sex-offender registries? Of course," Weeks said.

"But when they are prosecuted and convicted for very serious sex crimes, then what I would say is, there's a saying in criminal justice circles that the sex offender's greatest weapon is camouflage. When you get into discussions about expunging records and removing people from sex offender registries ... you're essentially trying to erase the record of something the public needs to know."

Conflicting studies

Biden and Showalter cite a number of studies showing that juvenile offenders are likely to re-offend. Perhaps the most persuasive is a 2007 study by the Delaware Statistical Analysis Center that tracked juvenile offenders who were released in 2001.
- See page 5 of the above study. This study only looked at 22 offenders for 5 years! A much larger study is needed to get a better grasp on recidivism, and I did not see how those offenders were selected.  Did they pick the worst of the worse, or what?

Of those offenders, 41 percent were arrested for a new sex offense within five years of release.

Nicole Pittman, an attorney and juvenile justice policy analyst with the Defender Association of Philadelphia and the National Juvenile Defender Center who is urging Delaware to modify its law, cites studies that some find equally persuasive.

For example, a 2009 study published in the International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology tracked juvenile sex offenders from adolescence through age 26. Fewer than 2 percent were arrested for an adult sex offense by age 27.

Delaware's juvenile sex offender statute "is ruining the next generation," Pittman told a joint meeting of the state House and Senate judiciary committees on March 31.

"Delaware has the youngest registrants in the country, and when you say in the country, it means in the world," Pittman said. "Having offenders who are younger than 14 on the registry is problematic."

Pittman said recent studies indicate that juvenile sex offenders have a recidivism rate of 5 percent to 14 percent -- substantially lower than the rates for other juvenile crimes, which range from 8 percent to 58 percent.
- Wow, it's funny, because the many studies I have on adult offenders, shows about the same recidivism rates.

In 2006, Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed the Adam Walsh Act, which contains a provision known as SORNA: the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.

That act requires juvenile offenders as young as 14 to register for life if convicted of more-serious sex offenses. States that do not comply will lose 10 percent of their funding from the federal Byrne Grant anti-crime program.

Delaware revised its law in an attempt to comply with the act, but in doing so it "cast an overly wide net that will tragically engulf nearly all adolescent sexual behaviors, including those prepubescent-like, exploratory behaviors committed largely out of curiosity," Pittman said in a prepared summary of her analysis of Delaware's law.

Politics in play

If the recent studies indicating that juvenile offenders are unlikely to commit another offense are true, Delaware's law could run counter to the 2002 state Supreme Court decision in Delaware v. Sapp.

In that case, the court advised the General Assembly to keep in mind that the registry statute must be related to the government's interest in protecting the public from the danger of recidivism of sex offenders.

The court also noted that then-current studies indicated that sex offenders -- particularly those who target children -- were likely to offend again.

But keeping Delaware in compliance with SORNA while easing the statute when it comes to the youngest offenders is a difficult political task, particularly in an election year.
- Yep, don't want to do what is right, but just anything to save their careers and to not look "soft" on sex offenders.

"It's a volatile issue. Dr. Bradley's case certainly puts these kinds of cases in the spotlight," Minutola said.
- I don't think it is.  You just have politicians who are thinking about themselves instead of listening to facts and reason.  It's all about saving their own butts!

"But Dr. Bradley is clearly a case of an adult offender. He's different from the children that we're talking about," she said. "Unfortunately, that case is highly publicized and it certainly might make things even harder."

Rep. Tom Kovach (Email), R-Brandywine Hundred, voiced the political difficulties facing legislators who might otherwise consider backing George's bill.

"How do we protect the public legitimately," Kovach asked during the joint judiciary committee meeting, and how can legislators explain to the public that they aren't being soft on sex offenders?
- For starters, you stop spreading bogus lies, and using those lies to get yourself into office or to keep your job.  Listen to the facts, experts and your heart!

No one had an answer.


TX - Sex Offender Arrested

Video Link


CT - Montville officials still worried about sex offenders

Original Article

05/10/2010

By ADAM BENSON

Montville - Now that state leaders have placed restrictions on where residential sex offender treatment facilities can be built, Montville leaders are asking one more question.

What now?

With no clear language in the measure making it retroactive, town leaders worry plans to locate such a facility in their community could still be a reality.

I’m not going to stand here and tell you that’s not going to happen,” Mayor Joseph Jaskiewicz said.

Without a doubt,” there is concern, he said.

Town Council Chairwoman Donna Jacobson echoed that sentiment.

What other assumptions can you have if someone is not saying the word ‘no,’ ” Jacobson said. “You’re boxed in as to what can be believed.”

Jaskiewicz said he spoke with Montville’s legislative delegation Friday, asking for clarification on whether the town is still among those being considered for the construction of a proposed 24-bed treatment facility for sex offenders completing prison sentences.

In his reading of the law, the answer is clear — but Jaskiewicz said he doesn’t want to leave any room for interpretation.

That could be an interesting point. As far as I’m concerned, this was an amendment to an existing law, and it should be applied that way,” he said.

Requires 5 choices

Hours before the General Assembly adjourned last Wednesday, state lawmakers unanimously approved the legislation, which requires firms to identify five locations for construction and specifically outline their proximity to sensitive sites such as schools, churches, public parks, senior centers and child care facilities.

According to state law, Gov. M. Jodi Rell (Contact) has 15 days to sign the measure once it reaches her office, which might not happen for “days or weeks,” said her spokesman, Adam Liegeot.

This bill has yet to arrive at the governor’s desk, but once it does, she will give it the thorough review it deserves,” Liegeot said.

State Rep. Betsy Ritter (Email), D-Waterford, said passage of the legislation means no Connecticut community will become a “dumping ground” for residential sex offender treatment facilities.

However, she did not rule out Montville as a prospective site.

Should this play out the way it was set up and (there) are five potential sites, I think the community that ends up with the facility, whether they like it or not, has the understanding this was the best location from a policy standpoint, and I think that makes a huge difference for acceptance,” Ritter said. “One of the points of doing it this way would be to ensure that the selection process was objective and factually based.”