Friday, May 21, 2010

TX - Sex offender label requires hearing, court rules

Original Article

05/21/2010

By R.G. RATCLIFFE

AUSTINTexas has been unconstitutionally designating some prison inmates as sexual criminals without giving them an appropriate hearing, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday.

The ruling could affect as many as 6,900 prison inmates who have never been convicted of a sex offense although they may be sexual predators.

The lawsuit was brought by _____, who was convicted in the 1982 murder of a nine-year old girl. He was released from prison in 1993 under the state's mandatory supervision law and then re-incarcerated until 2002.

At that time the Board of Pardon's and Paroles listed _____ as a sex offender, a condition that was rescinded in 2005. _____ was not allowed to see the evidence against him or have a hearing before the board.

_____ is no longer required to register as a sex offender,” the court said.

_____ claims he cannot get out of incarceration in a Travis County Correctional Complex because the terms of his release require a parole officer to accompany him at all times. He says he has been allowed to leave the jail only twice and that he was denied one job because it was close to a “child safety” zone and on another occasion because he was not allowed to obtain a driver's license.

The 5th Circuit noted that in previous cases it has ruled that inmates cannot be designated as a sex offender without a due process hearing.

The 5th Circuit said the state has an interest in rehabilitating sex offenders before they re-enter society, but it said inmates also have a legitimate interest in making certain the record against them is free of errors. But the state at present does not allow inmates to review the record that is used to designate them as sex offenders or to put additional provisions on their parole.

We conclude that the current procedure provided to parolees who have never been convicted of a sex offense and who face possible sex offender registration and therapy is constitutionally insufficient,” the court said.

In compiling 6,900 parolee packets, human error will inevitably occur and parolees may be falsely accused of sexually deviant behavior,” the court said. “By simply granting the parolees the right to review his packet, such human errors could be avoided.”

Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokeswoman Michelle Lyons said the agency plans to review the ruling next week with the Texas Attorney General's Office to see what step to take next.

_____ became a statewide story at the time of his 1993 release in the rape and murder of Kendra Page on a South Austin playground. Parole officers found it difficult to find a home for _____ because one community after another rejected his local release. He eventually ended up back in Austin and had his parole revoked when he broke curfew to leave his mother's home to buy a pack of cigarettes.


GA - HB-571 Signed by the Governor

Read HB-571 here

Dear friends,

We are pleased to tell you that today, May 21, 2010, Governor Perdue (Contact) signed HB 571 into law. Please stay tuned, we will be sending a more detailed email with a summary of the new law on Monday. Have a great weekend.

All the best,

Sara, Sarah, Gerry and Mica



Mica Doctoroff
Southern Center for Human Rights
83 Poplar St.
Atlanta, GA 30303
(404) 688-1202 -phone
(404) 688-9440- fax
mdoctoroff@schr.org
www.schr.org


"Christian" hypocrisy at it's best

Original Article

These people call themselves "Christians?" I wonder what Bible they have been reading, because the Bible I have read, does not teach the hate and anger they show by the blog post they have posted. The person who wrote this, claims to be a therapist. Did they even once check out the facts for themselves, or like most people, take them at face value? And if this person is a therapist, I feel sorry for whomever they "treat!"

05/20/2010

By Aaron Welch

Jessica LunsfordCaylee Anthony…Haleigh Cummings…Jessica Vargas…Trenton Duckett…and the list goes on. These are just a few of the names of children who have been killed or are missing here in the state of Florida, many of them in the Central Florida area. In the shadow of Disney World there are predators who would seduce and harm our children in ways we cannot imagine. As a test, I went to the sex offender and predator database for Florida and typed in the addresses of my home and of my work. Immediately hundreds of registered sex offenders popped onto the screen. It was startling and terrifying all at the same time. The Department of Justice estimates that, on average, there is one child molester per square mile in the United States. They also estimate that the average child molester victimizes between 50-150 children before he is arrested. Anna Salter, in her book “Predators”, cites research that says 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys will have sexual contact with an adult. She also notes that 3 years old is the most common age that sexual abuse occurs.

As a therapist, these figures startle and intrigue me; the fact that there are so many predators out there…mostly men, who are so emotionally deranged or wounded themselves that they are willing to commit unspeakable acts on young children. As a counselor, this is almost overwhelming to me in its magnitude.

As a parent……a father….a daddy………..it angers and disgusts me to my very core. As my awareness rises in this arena my protective instincts hit overdrive. As I see case after case on the news of missing children and children who have been victimized in some way and of the children that didn’t make it, whose remains have been discovered somewhere, carelessly discarded by someone who only viewed them as an object of that person’s warped and self-centered idea of pleasure, I am outraged and irate. I truly wish that I could assist the police on every one of these cases. I think of what Jessica Lunsford endured and mourn over what never should have happened to her. I reflect on Caylee Anthony and pray that there is justice for that little girl. The case concerning Haleigh Cummings haunts me every time I hear anything mentioned about it. Why can’t they find her??? And then I think of my little boy and my precious little girl and I wish I could keep them with me every minute of every day so they are protected and will never have to worry that they could part of this list.

And so, because I am limited in how I can offer assistance to the community in fighting this horrible epidemic….because I am not in a position to strap on a gun and hunt down the predators who stalk and pursue our children…I write.

This will begin a series of articles on how we, as parents, can better-protect our children from predators. I will be sharing research I have found in my training as a sex offender treatment specialist and other research that is out there from various authors and many others who have gone further than I in the fight to save our children. My prayer is that the articles I write will be a resource for parents that will give them greater courage and knowledge to protect their kids. The police cannot do it alone. After viewing the database, I know that there are too many predators out there for the limited number of law enforcement officers, try as they might. We, as the community, as parents, must join the fight. We must not sit back and just hope that our children will not be one of those chosen as targets. We must become informed about the nature of predators and learn as many safeguards as possible that will make our children a more difficult target than most predators want to focus on. We cannot be with our children 24-7, as much as we wish we could. However, we can gather the tools we need to become “parent warriors” who are alert, informed, and who arm their children with the emotional and safety-oriented weapons they will need as they venture into a world that is not as safe as we want it to be.

So fellow parents, though I write with the knowledge I have gathered as a therapist, the heart of these articles will be from my role as a daddy, one that is very protective of his babies, would fight to the death for all of them, and who wants to help you to fight for your own family. Together, we can make a difference.
- "Together, we can make a difference."  Not with this kind of hypocritical attitude.  I have many studies linked on this blog, which you can read, and I urge you to VERIFY the facts, who are they coming from, do they have a motive, etc!  Get the real facts, not just disinformation spread by the self-serving media and politicians.

Aaron Welch is a licensed mental health counselor, nationally certified counselor and certified sex offender treatment specialist. He strives to fight for the hearts of his clients and empower them to build a legacy that impacts the world. He is part of a team of experts at “The Lifeworks Group, Inc”. For more information about Aaron or Lifeworks, please visit www.lifeworksgroup.org or www.legacycounselingservices.org


IN - Special (Vigilante) Report: Wake Up Call - sex offenders found at area motels

Original Article

When you are down and out, don't have anything to report on, bust out the sex offender issues and carry out a vigilante campaign to get more viewers and ratings! Media vigilantism at it's worst! Anything for a story!

05/20/2010

By Deanna Dewberry

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Almost 100 sex offenders are released from the Indiana prisons every month. I-Team 8 wanted to know where they go, so that’s why we began an extensive investigation of sex offenders in the state of Indiana. What we found might affect your travel plans.

It's travel season. Folks are preparing to pack the minivan and hit the road for a bit of family fun. Perhaps you're planning to stop at a hotel for the night. But before you check in, you'll want to check the resources provided for you in this story.

We begin in the city of Seymour. The chamber of commerce says it’s known as the crossroads of southern Indiana, place where folks often stop for the night on their way to Indy, Cincinnati or Louisville.

The Motel 6 slogan says they'll leave the light on for you. But at a Seymour Motel 6 located at 365 Tanger Blvd, guests may choose to not only leave their lights on, but also their doors locked and their shades drawn.

That's because newly-released sex offenders temporarily call the motel home. The employee at the desk told us three were living there. We actually found five sex offenders who listed the Seymour Motel 6 as their address including rapists, a child molester, and one violent sexual predator.
- Not to include the drug dealers, prostitutes, murderers and many other criminals you don't know about!

We asked the clerk whether he told other guests that he allowed the Department of Corrections to place sex offenders at the hotel. He reluctantly said he did not.

The same was true at the two other Seymour motels that house sex offenders. In fact, one third of Seymour's hotels and motels house sex offenders.

We asked the owner of the Allstate Inn, who calls himself “Harry,” whether he told guests that sex offenders stayed at his hotel.

"I mean, cops not say that, to do that, I mean," said Harry.

He's right. The law only requires sex offenders to register with the state within 72 hours of their release.

The Indiana Sheriff's Sex and Violent Offender Registry , complete with the offender's picture and address, is publicly available online. You have to type in a hotel's address to see if sex offenders are staying there.

We found that a check of the registry before check-in isn't a bad idea. I-Team 8 has learned the Indiana Department of Correction provides temporary housing for newly-released sex offenders at 36 hotels and motels all across the state.

On average, 95 sex offenders get out of prison each month, 60 of whom are on probation and may have no place to go.

"Placement of sex offenders is very difficult, mainly because of the nature of the crime," said Doug Garrison, Department of Correction spokesman.
- No, placement of sex offenders is difficult because of the unconstitutional laws, that don't work, passed by those in legislature, who don't have the balls to stand up for peoples rights and the constitution, which they took an oath, and apparently lied, to defend.

The law doesn't allow sex offenders to live within 1,000 feet of places where children gather like a school or park. And often even family members don't want them back. So you, the taxpayer, foot the hotel bills for convicted rapists and child molesters.
- Well, it's the tax payer who allow for these draconian laws, which force many into homelessness, so they should pay for it, IMO.

But for how long?

"It's kind of variable. At least a couple of weeks, and it can extend longer than that which essentially pays for their room and board for a period of time," said Garrison.

It seems sex offenders are always in at the Always Inn located 7410 E. 21st Street. We found 15 who listed the inn's address on the sex offender registry. All committed crimes ranging from rape to child molestation.

We asked the clerk whether the hotel staff inform other guests that sex offenders newly released from prison stay at the inn.

"The law doesn't say that we have to," said hotel clerk Anna Peraza.

But she does say that the hotel makes an effort to keep sex offenders away from families.

"Well, it's like, you know, most of our families are in the front," said Peraza.

She told us sex offenders are in the back of the hotel housed in the 300 building. So that's where we went.

The shades were drawn and we could hear movement, but no one answered at the first two doors. But at the third room, we were surprised to find the mother of a 15-year-old girl. She told us she just recently learned she was surrounded by sex offenders. She adds that had she known before checking in, she would have chosen another motel.
- So once you learned, why not move out?

In the next room we found a woman who was staying there alone. As we talked to her, the hotel clerk came to ask us to stop, but had more questions.

When asked why a woman and her daughter were living in the same building with violent sexual predators, the clerk said, "She's away from them."

Asked how that was possible when they were next door, she couldn't or wouldn't provide an answer.

The director of the Sex Offender Management and Monitoring Program admits that hotels do not provide an ideal environment, but he stressed that after they're released from prison they are closely monitored, forced to attend therapy and given regular polygraph tests.

"With a one percent recidivism rate for offenders released to the community within three years, we've made substantial progress," said Adam Deming, Director of the Sex Offender, Management & Monitoring Program.

But challenges remain. We found four repeat sex offenders living at the Always Inn, two repeat rapists, one repeat child molester, and one man convicted multiple times of both crimes. Now they're out of prison with no place to go.

And until a better solution is found, it's up to customers to assure their hotel neighbor isn't a sex offender.


First, They Came for the Sex Offenders

Original Article

05/20/2010

By David Rittgers

First, they came for the sex offenders. I am not a sex offender, but I opposed the civil commitment of sex offenders by the federal government because it is not an activity within the enumerated powers of Congress. The Supreme Court decided otherwise in Comstock, with the exception of Justices Thomas and Scalia.

Next, they will come for suspected terrorists. As Dahlia Lithwick (who I rarely agree with – here is her commentary on the Heller case) points out, the Supreme Court’s decision in Comstock may have some frightening implications for domestic preventive detention of terrorism suspects in lieu of criminal prosecution.

I saw this firsthand last summer when I attended a scholars meeting with the Obama administration’s Detention Policy Task Force (the same one that Andy McCarthy publicly refused to attend). I gave my views on where detention policy should go, as did a conference room full of experts on the laws of armed conflict and criminal justice (who shall remain anonymous, as this meeting was off the record). I was dismayed to hear a law professor from a prestigious university propose a system of preventive detention as the logical solution to countering terrorism. Worse yet, to make this law less provocative, the professor further proposed that preventive detention should be applied in other criminal contexts, so that the department of pre-crime would not be seen as unfairly targeting only enemy combatants overseas. This professor had taught many of the Department of Justice staffers in the room, and I looked around to see heads nodding at the suggestion.

I responded forcefully that such a system is antithetical to American traditions of due process. Battlefield detention is necessary to incapacitate insurgents and terrorists overseas, and is often employed in lieu of killing them. Broad powers of detention without trial in the criminal context do not make Guantanamo less controversial; they bring it on to our shores and in to our courtrooms. If we have enough information to show that someone is a threat by a preponderance of the evidence in order to detain them, we probably have enough to indict them for conspiracy. One of the reasons that few people turn to political violence in the United States is that the Bill of Rights bars the government from telling the citizenry how to worship, what to think, and what they can say. Generally speaking, you have to actually be a criminal to get charged as one.

Would the votes in Comstock translate into a Supreme Court ratification of such a system? Probably not, since Kennedy and Alito stressed in their concurrences that the circumstances in Comstock are unique. And Hamdi showed us that Scalia takes habeas corpus rights seriously when it comes to citizens. Unfortunately, only Stevens shared this view and he looks to be replaced by Elena Kagan, who argued that civil commitment in Comstock was an extension of Congress’ power to create and run a prison system (not an enumerated power). But this isn’t about counting the noses currently on the Court; it’s about creating a new normal where the people in prison are detainees, not defendants.

Unfortunately, there are more than a few people in favor of such a system. Jack Goldsmith and Neal Katyal (now the acting Solicitor General) propose a terrorism court. Sens. McCain and Lieberman want to treat all terrorism suspects as enemy combatants. Sens. Lieberman and Brown want to strip the citizenship of terrorism suspects and try them by military commission. Sens. Graham and McCain plan to close Guantanamo by creating a preventive detention court. Take a conservative plan to deal with enemy combatants captured on the other side of the world, strap on some liberal angst over tea parties and militia groups, and you’ve got a bipartisan plan for wholesale degradation of everyone’s liberties.

And when the proposal comes, the first thing they’ll say is that this is how we already deal with sex offenders.