Friday, May 28, 2010
An Assembly committee Friday advanced a bill — known as Chelsea’s Law after slain Poway teenager Chelsea King — that would toughen penalties against sexually violent criminals.
The action by the Appropriations Committee clears the way for a vote by the full Assembly sometime next week, according to Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher (Contact), R-San Diego, who authored the legislation.
A registered sex offender, John Albert Gardner III, pleaded guilty to murdering 17-year-old Chelsea on Feb. 25 and 14-year-old Escondido High School freshman Amber Dubois on Feb. 13, 2009.
He was sentenced earlier this month to two consecutive life terms in prison without the possibility of parole, plus 49 years. AB 1844 (PDF) calls for mandatory life sentences for forcible violent sex crimes against children.
It would also tighten sex offense parole guidelines and require life-long tracking of certain sex offenders. The bill previously passed the Assembly Public Safety Committee and has been endorsed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Just the usual "feel good" legislation from politicians exploiting the issues to get their name on a bill, so they look better to the public, and which actually would do NOTHING to prevent another child from being victimized online.
SACRAMENTO - Legislation that would have banned registered sex offenders from using social networking websites has died in an Assembly committee.
On Friday, the Assembly Appropriations Committee held two Democratic bills on the issue because of cost concerns. The measures needed the panel's approval to be considered by the full Assembly next week.
A bill by Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani (Contact) of Tracy would have prohibited sex offenders from using the Internet to look at pornography, social networking sites or communicate with a minor.
A Galgiani spokesman says monitoring the online activity of sex offenders could have cost the state as much as $20 million a year.
A more limited bill by Assemblywoman Norma Torres (Contact) of Pomona would have banned sex offenders from online social networking websites.
The Parents Perspective
You become anxious. You check the time every few minutes. You look at the phone expecting it to ring.
It is well past the time she should have come home. Where could she be?
As the minutes pass you pace the floor and your mind covers all the bases. She lost track of time, she got caught in traffic, perhaps a flat tire. Why don't you call me?
It is a long and sleepless night. Perhaps you drove to where she was last known to be, retracing every step. At 3 AM you called her friends, all of them, and none had seen her since she left the party.
Morning finds you looking out the window. The driveway is empty. It's time to make that call. As the knot in your stomach tightens, you dial the number, 9 - 1 - 1.
When a voice comes from the other end of the line you agonize even to say the words, "My daughter is missing. Please help me find her. She is so young. Please bring her back to me." The emotions are beyond comparison and tears begin to fall as for the first time you contemplate the worst case scenario.
This tragic event plays out far too often and on rare occasions the outcome is tragic. She never comes home. Does it matter that the statistics show that you are seven times more likely to be struck by lightning than to have this worst case scenario happen in your life? NO! It does not, for the loss of even one of our children in this manner is unacceptable.
Let's continue this story and see what happens next.
Within hours the media has picked up the story. You are an emotional wreck and these people are there to help you find your child. But the sad reality is that it is all about ratings and sensationalism, but at this time you don't care.
You look at the announcer as she says the words that cut to your heart. Her voice compassionate and concerned, she begins. "A 16 year old Pleasant City girl, Millie Doe is missing and authorities need your help! Please call 555-5555..." At least someone is trying to help. But you can't help but notice that the announcer was able to smile happily when she quickly moved on to the next story about a dog that was rescued. You wish you could even force a smile. Nonetheless, the word is out.
The minutes pass by and every sound is heightened. It has been three days since you slept. Your lawn is covered with reporters. It is a big story. Somewhere in the back of your mind you feel like your tragedy is being used for the profit of these vultures, but they are spreading the word and perhaps someone will come forward and your daughter will come home to you.
Days have turned into weeks and a numbness has set in. The police have a few leads but nothing new is happening. The reporters have left to cover another big story. She's only mentioned now and then in the news reports. People are forgetting. Your fear has become part of your life. How could someone hurt my child? Why GOD? Why? Please bring her home!
Friends tell you to eat something; you have lost weight. You don't care. Your world is ending.
The phone rings. It has a different sound. You hesitate as if you know. "Hello." Your emotions spike as you hear the words. You fall to your knees, your heart ready to burst, your stomach in knots. "NO! NO dear GOD no......"
The night is silent but your mind cannot erase the images. You cry all the time and when you are alone you sit with the blinds drawn and the lights off.
In the days that follow the reporters return. They capture your every emotion and then they move on. You try to make sense of it. You walk into her room and break down and cry. Darkness is all you feel.
Weeks pass and she is forgotten to the world as new big stories top the ratings. But you have not forgotten, you remember her. You always will. Fickle world we live in.
The phone rings. The police have suspect, a registered sex offender. "A what... she was what? OH GOD he did what to my baby....." A sickening feeling comes over you. You run to the bathroom and vomit. The unfathomable has just been dropped in your lap and the words resonate in your ears. Your mind tries not to think of it, but you cannot hide from the images that paint themselves so vividly across shattered psyche. The terror she went through.......
The phone rings. It is a representative for a legislator. He explains that registered sex offenders are four time more like to commit another sex crime than non sex offenders. Four times! You think, GOD why are they on the streets!
You now have a target on which to unleash your anger and pain. You are aided by the media who are once again camping on your lawn. There is also a legislator who is very concerned and trying to help you. Long before the accused man ever goes to trial a plan is set in place to ensure this never happens again. A new law, named after your daughter will save all like her. She will be remembered.
The law will target the maggots that did this to her. They will pay, ALL of them!
What just happened here? What took place? Fear and hurt have changed into anger and that anger has been fueled by the media and a legislator. We understand the anger; it is justified. But we have seen how fickle the media is, so what are they getting out of this? Ratings. They are making money off this tragedy and if you do not believe that just wait until the next big story. They will leave you and go where the ratings are.
What about the politician? Surely he has good intentions. If that were only true. If you recall that first communication with his staff and that statistic that was quoted to you. It was true, but that statistic was not explained to you. It was not explained that registered former sex offenders are less likely than all other classes of criminals to be rearrested for any crime. But that does not ease your pain, does it. It still remains.
Things are moving fast now. The law is progressing and you are pushing it at every opportunity. Having this cause has helped you get through these emotionally trying times. Each time you give a speech where you go after these predators, it is like castrating the man who killed her. If only you could. But his will have to do.
At this point I want to turn this discussion as we know the outcome. A new law is passed that targets every person on the registry. So now please follow along with me as I make a comparison.
You feel a chest pain. You ignore it. Indigestion. It worsens and you realize it's a heart attack. You call 911. An ambulance arrives. You are rushed to the hospital. After several hours you are stable. The doctor explains that you were lucky, you have high blood pressure and high cholesterol. He puts you on a diet and a specific medication based on your specific needs.
Now, years later you are doing fine. You are in good health to the point that you no longer need medication. It has been 10 years since your heart attack and you know more about proper nutrition and exercise. At your last physical your doctor noted that you are in better health than most people twenty years younger. You are in no danger of another heart attack.
Weeks later, far across the country a man you do not know has a heart attack. He dies before doctors can save him. In the aftermath it is pointed out that those who have had a heart attack in the past are at greater risk of another heart attack than those who have never had a heart attack (true statistic).
A new law is passed in memory of that man and soon you are forced to take a new medication. You are restricted by law from certain foods. It is also determined that in a rare cases flying is a danger, so you are now restricted from flying.
You immediately go to your doctor and ask why this is happening to you. You did not have another heart attack! Your doctor tells you that he personally spoke with those who made the law. He told them this was simply the wrong approach, and explained that allowing experts in the field to manage each case individually was the wisest thing to do. But no one listened to him. Now you life is ruined and each time another person has a heart attack you are restricted more and more. Some of these restrictions unjustly put a heavy burden on your family.
Do you see the comparison here? Why do we target a whole group of people when something tragic happens? Is it a natural outlet for anger? Why do we ignore experts in the field who keep telling us that the approach we are take is wrong? Why do we not look at each case individually and why do we punish ALL when only one is responsible for the crime.
Yes, we understand the emotions involved. We also understand the players in the game. But we also know that it is not healthy for a family who has been devastated by a loss such as this to be cast into the spotlight, rather than having time to deal with the pain and anger in order to recover mentally and emotionally. Their pain and anger begins to rule their lives. It becomes who they are and only they know the true toll it is taking on them.
As a people we must start a dialogue, one centered on facts and led by experts. When tragedy strikes should we target every person who falls into a certain class, or should we punish only the person guilty? If you think this is a tough question then ask yourself. Is this kind of profiling and retribution dealt out to any other class of offender? And please consider further that in the worst case scenario we are talking about MURDER and yet it is not murderers that we target.
Another fact must be interjected at this point. Registered former sex offenders have nearly the same re-offense rate as murderers. A recent study in California found that number to be 3.8%. And a study from the department of Justice found that about 94.7% of former offenders will not commit ANY other crime. And since the worst case scenario accounts for only 0.2% of all abductions and 0.00002% of all the sex crimes committed by those on the registry why are we targeting every former sex offender? Because we need to blame someone. Punishing the person responsible is just not enough. (Percentages derived from the DOJ and Study by, U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention)
It is time to bring in the experts and remove the decision making process from grieving families and politicians that have a political bias. Though we sympathize with their cause and feel angry that this has happened to their children, they are ill-equipped to make good choices when it comes to managing issues that are exceedingly diverse. A one size fits all approach is not working and it is irresponsible. Please, let the doctors do their jobs.
The Jim Crows Are Back!
Just what does it take to get us talking, thinking, openly communicating.
And why would anyone go to such extremes just to get people to read an article.
The answers are simple. Each one of us has a comfort zone; even in what we will read or what we will talk about.
If the subject line had been any different would you have read it? Only you can answer that. To those who saw past their own feelings and read further, you demonstrate why you are a leader in this movement. It is because you are willing to at least look at the other side of an issue, even if you disagree with it. Really this is the only way we can come up with an answer to our opponents objections.
If we understand this, we can begin to understand what it will take for us to reach the public with our message. We can see that thus far we have had little success in reaching the masses. The why is simple. Our subject offends them so they do not consider it worthy of conversation or thought. So now that I have you thinking please consider the following article with an open mind. And remember I do not write to offend only to open a dialogue of an important subject.
"He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from opposition; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach himself. ~Thomas Paine"
As many of you know I recently wrote an article about Jim Crow laws and how these same types of laws are now being used against former sex offenders. In that article I used the "N" word and directed not towards African Americans but sex offenders. Some took offence, wrongly thinking that I was making a racist statement. That is simply not true. In different contexts the "N" word means different things. If it is being used by one African American towards another it is fine. But if anyone else uses it even in fun it is wrong. Jack Chan found that out in the movie, Shanghai Noon. So I am not going to ponder this too much in this article. It is obvious that if people want to get upset they will, no matter the intent.
Sometimes when a point is being made it will ruffle a few feathers. Sad thing is when we, any of us on the side of reform will not even read beyond a title. If we can thus be so close minded we cannot expect legislators, victim's families and the public to be any different when we present the facts of our case. Becoming open minded must start with us. Only then can we begin to understand the process. Only then can we begin to be effective teachers.
Our movement should have powerful momentum considering the weight of the laws that target those on the registry and their families. No other class of convict has to deal with anything like the punitive laws that target all former sex offenders. For this reason alone there should be an outcry great enough for legislators to take note. And yet no such cry is rising. Our lips are somewhat sealed.
Fractured! Our groups are unstable. One word can light a fire and blaze like dry stubble across an open field. OH, you may be thinking I am talking about the "N" word. No we are past that. It does not even take that much to turn our people on each other. Let's look at the fractures for a moment and think about what we are doing to our own movement.
One would never think that there would be class distinctions among sex offender groups, but there are. One of our biggest fractures is between the classes or crimes. Let's look at the classes and pardon me if I miss one or two because the fractures are along certain lines.
Child Molester (Familial)
Child Molester (Predator)
- A predator is more commonly in prison due to recidivism, thus a lessor threat statistically due the their small numbers.
- A predator must have a definable Psychosis that proves they are a threat. This can be determined by professionals in the field.
Among us these are often the dividing lines and it goes something like this.
Some of these divisions can be down right funny if you are on the sidelines listening. The Tier I saying the Tier III is the bad guy when just a few months back they were both Tier I. Tier Levels mean nothing!!! The AWA has proven that point.
Some parents of Romeo's make the distinction that their children are not sex offenders; they were young and made a mistake and besides it was consensual. Therefore they will not fight to reform laws for others on the registry since they see themselves as the highest class.
Some who are Falsely Accused look at themselves as not being sex offenders or criminals at all. They therefore look at the Romeo's and other classes, who did actually break the law and they will not help reform the registry for anything other than their class.
Child Porn and Internet Sting offenders many times will feel much the same way as the Falsely Accused. They see their crimes as victimless so some of them will turn away from helping to reform the registry for the benefit of any of the rest as they see them as having crimes with victims.
Most Rapists of adult women do not even want to be associated with other sex offenders as they see their crime as completely different. In all my time with this movement I have yet to meet one. They do not want to be associated with a name that has become synonymous with child molesters.
What about the child molester of the familial variety. After doing much research I found that this is one of the largest classes among us. They are also the least likely among us to reoffend. And they are near the bottom of the classes with all above them looking down with disdain.
And lastly there is the predator. The true reason for the registry. I do not believe that I have ever encountered one of this class in the reform movement. That is not to say they do not sneak in, but they are unlikely to stay long as one of our goals is to protect all children.
Now, have I offended any of you by pointing out the class distinctions? I hope not because, I now want you to think of the reason you are part of this movement.
Are you on the registry?
Is it your child who is on the registry?
Or perhaps a spouse or a friend?
If the answer is yes to any of the above, I hate to burst your bubble but that person on the registry, they are a sex offender. People in society do not make the same class distinctions that we do. They put us all in one pot and they stir that pot. They stir that pot by creating more laws against all sex offenders.
Are classes within our movement productive to the goals of the movement? NO! These class distinctions are causing us as many problems as the anti movement is causing us.... Perhaps even more when you consider that some registered offenders have switched sides and now cause us heartache at every opportunity.
It is time to end the class distinctions and unite! Aside from the predators, we need to work together to bring about reasonable laws that both protect women and children and protect the civil and human rights of every citizen of the United States of America, this includes the rights of all convicted, reformed, registered sex offenders.
United we are a force for change, fractured we are simply prey for the vultures of society.
We, each and every one of us, must apply the phrase "the enemy of my enemy is my friend". It is a proverb that advances the concept that someone who is the enemy of your enemy is therefore your friend. It further means that because two parties have a common enemy, one can use the other to advance their goals. This concept is not new, we should know and understand it.
We, as a group, have common enemies. They are ignorance, hate, fear. Our enemies take on the form of laws that are ill-conceived and counterproductive. These enemies are causing each of us harm in one way or another and yet the groups fracture along class lines. Talk about counterproductive!
Having strong principles is a good thing, admirable. But if our goals are the same, why can we not work together? Simple. Our goals are not the same. It is all about "ME". Even among us we cannot see beyond our own noses. What we need are simple common goals. So I will lay out some that should not be objected too.
1. Remove the registry from the public view. (Why? Vigilantism and false sense of security)
2. Remove residency and proximity restrictions. (common sense)
3. Reform the registry to remove those who are of little threat of re-offending and end lifetime registration.
4. Promote educational programs in schools that teach children about abuse and prevention.
5. Promote public education of prevention to reduce the first instance of abuse.
6. Remove barriers for families that are seeking reunification.
7. Remove barriers for families and individuals seeking help from trained professionals.
8. Remove civil commitment for all but those deemed (by a third party committee) as truly dangerous.
8a. Require annual testing to determine if a person qualifies for release.9. Return sentencing guidelines to their previous levels and bring them in line with similar crimes.
There may be more that could be added to this list but if we just focused on these, the lives of RSO's and their family's would improve greatly. It is also likely that this would reduce first time offending. Education is the key to that. And educating the children is not enough; educating the parents is a must!
If we work as a united group, fighting the same enemy, we can be effective, we can win. Or we can separate along class lines and we will have little or no effect on the laws that are causing more harm than good to those we love.
So the next time you think, "I'm different" or "My sons case is different" or "My husband/wife's case is different", remember in the eyes of the public you are wrong, each one is the same.
To bring about the changes we must put aside our own prejudices and unite. You see, the "N" word that got so much attention should not get us near so fired up as the SO word.
Do you disagree? If you do, please, by all means do this. Go into a large crowd of say 500 or more and if you are not the SO, take them along. Now have someone walk up to them and say loudly you "N", and watch the reaction. Next do the same thing this but time, if you have the guts and think the "N" word is the worst thing in the world, shout loudly you're a SEX OFFENDER! You tell me which one gets the worst reaction. Which would you prefer if you are the RSO. By all means please just call me a "N".
The SO word is far worse, and that word should infuriate us. We were not born with that label, it was added after a mistake was made. But even after payment for the mistake was made in full, it remains. How angry we should be over that word that BRANDS us! It should cause us to stand up and say NO MORE! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
I have presented much to think about if we are going to bring about change, but in the end the choice belongs to each one of you, Fractured or United.
On another note, I have told RSOL staff to pull my Jim Crow article permanently. I did not want to case anger and fracture among us.
I was hoping that our people had open minds and would consider an opinion other than their own.
At this point I will leave the decision on the article in their hands. If they want to use it that is fine, if they do not then trash it.
By MICHAEL MURRAY
Social Networks, People Search Aggregators Open More Personal Info. Can You Protect Yourself?
For a $2.95 a month subscription on Spokeo.com, anyone can find your name, age, ethnicity, marital status, religion, politics, address, home phone number, mobile phone number, e-mail address, social networking profiles, photos, videos and blogs.
The website uses an algorithm to search public databases, so the information is only as accurate as the sources, but many may be surprised by the amount of accurate information available online. As opposed to social networks, people search engines like Spokeo.com do not require you to sign up for anything in order for your information to be found.
Search yourself on Spokeo.com and you may be surprised to find how much information is available to anyone with a computer and a modem. Although public records have always made certain information available, the Internet age, and the subsequent rise of social networks, has increased the ease with which people can track down general, and personal, information about you. But are these sites also a new tool for scammers and identity thieves?
Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel's office released a consumer alert about Spokeo on May 7.
"The difference with these web sites is that information from a variety of disparate sources is aggregated, collated, and presented in one place. It's like pieces of a puzzle put together. The result is that consumers enjoy less privacy, and that is understandably shocking," the AG said on its website.
"The reason we singled out [Spokeo] is we received numerous inquiries from consumers," Arkansas Deputy Attorney General Jim DePriest told ABC News, although he made clear that Spokeo is one of many sites that aggregate personal information. "Consumers are a little taken aback that this information is available in one place, and they feel that their privacy has been invaded, so we are responding to those fears."
Map: Registered Sex Offenders By State
By Alan Greenblatt
Nationwide, more than 700,000 convicted sex offenders have registered their whereabouts with local police. Every state has a sex offender registry of some kind.
But as many states face persistent budget shortfalls, it's become a real question how well law enforcement can keep track of such a large caseload.
"Sometimes federal mandates and state laws get passed without a real sense of what the lingering costs are," says Suzanne Brown-McBride, deputy director of the Council of State Governments Justice Center.
Earlier this month, the Justice Department proposed significant changes to the registration requirements states must meet under the Adam Walsh Act, a 2006 law that was meant to ensure that offender registries across the country adhere to similar standards. Only three states — Ohio, Delaware and Florida — are in compliance. Many of the rest say it imposes costs that are too high for them to bear.
Even some advocates for harsher penalties for sex crimes worry that states will not devote the resources needed to keep track of so many offenders, often for life.
"It's the worst it's ever been because of the economic crisis," says Ernie Allen, president and CEO of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, which estimates 100,000 sex offenders are not even currently registered with states. "Our argument lies not in throwing up your hands and saying we can't do this. The answer lies in triage — deciding who represents the greatest risk."
The greatest expense, of course, is incarceration. Sex criminals, along with drug offenders, are the fastest-growing part of prison populations, Allen says. Last week, the Supreme Court ruled (PDF) that Congress had not overstepped its authority in the Adam Walsh Act by allowing federal prisons to hold "sexually dangerous" inmates after their sentences are completed.
The California legislature is currently considering a bill, known as Chelsea's Law, which would allow for life sentences for more categories of sex offenders and lifetime parole for others. The bill has the backing of Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (Contact) and could pass the State Assembly as early as next week.
But state officials have warned that the cost of implementing Chelsea's Law will be high as the lengthier sentences play out. An analysis by the state corrections department found the law would cost $1 million in 2015 but $54 million by 2030. The California Legislative Analyst's Office says costs will run much higher (PDF), "at least a few tens of millions of dollars annually within the next decade" and hundreds of millions annually in decades to come.
California's budget shortfall currently stands at $19 billion and the corrections budget is already under deep stress. The state is releasing 6,500 prisoners early this year in part to save money. California is under court order to release 40,000 prisoners over the next two years, and perhaps many more over three years, because of overcrowding.
But Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher (Contact), the Republican sponsor of Chelsea's Law, disputes the LAO's higher cost estimates for his bill and says that even the corrections department's projected $54 million cost in 2030 would represent a small fraction of the projected state budget and "can be absorbed."
"I disagree with the criticism that I hear that the costs are too high," he says. "It's absolutely not asking too much of government to protect children from violent sex predators."
At the same time, states have come under some criticism for requiring registration and community notification for an ever-expanding list of offenses — including public urination, "sexting" (minors sending nude pictures to each other via cell phones) and "Romeo and Juliet" cases involving older teens who had consensual sex with younger ones.
The argument from some advocacy groups holds that there are twin dangers associated with registration lists that contain thousands of petty criminals: They are too long to track effectively and can allow the worst offenders to slip through the cracks.
But purging the lists of minor offenders would not necessarily make them more manageable, says Roxanne Lieb, director of the Washington State Institute for Public Policy.
"Sometimes there's discussion about sexting and Romeo and Juliet, but you're talking about tiny numbers," she says. "It would still be a huge number to monitor. It's not going to solve the problem of too many people to watch and keep track of in any way."
Still, even proponents of harsher penalties increasingly say there's value in laws that recognize some sex offenders require more oversight than others.
"In criminal justice, there are people who you're mad at and there are people you're afraid of," says Fletcher, the California representative. "All of our focus is on people we feel are likely to reoffend."
Yet the trend in most states has been to differentiate less between various categories of offenders — moving away from "tiered" systems that imposed different notification requirements depending on the severity of the crime.
And it's the very fact that the Adam Walsh Act puts offenders into three different tiers that has contributed to states' fear about the cost, suggests Alisa Klein, a public policy consultant with the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers. The practical effect of the federal law would be to force states to put more offenders into the highest-risk category — leading to much greater administrative and enforcement costs.
The Justice Department's proposed changes would allow states more discretion about listing offenders as young as 14 on their registries, as well as offenders whose crimes predate the law's passage.
If states do not comply by July 26 — itself an extension of last year's deadline – they stand to lose 10 percent of their funding under a congressional grant program for law enforcement. But with only a couple of months left and few states on board, it appears that most are deciding the cost of compliance will be higher than the penalty.
"This federal mandate is requiring all kinds of things that financially are near to impossible for states to implement," Klein says. "In these incredibly difficult fiscal times, with states near bankruptcy, it is extraordinarily hard for them to come into compliance, just for financial reasons."
The question now is what sort of calculations states will make moving forward. Congress and state legislatures may have made bigger promises in protecting against sex offenders than they're willing to pay for, or that agencies may be able to deliver.
"What happens is the legislature has basically made a commitment to the citizens regarding how sex offenders will be managed and kept track of," says Lieb of the Washington State Institute for Public Policy. "To the extent they're not able to fulfill those expectations, then it becomes grounds for disappointment and lawsuits and other financial consequences."
It appears they are now showing publicly submitted comments as well, but when you go to the site (click the image), you have to check the "PUBLIC SUBMISSION" check box to see other peoples comments.
This was originally posted on our blog, but YouTube deleted our original channel, so we are reposting it. The source of the audio is from here.
I am so sick and tired of the biased media using the term predator as if all sex offenders are predators. Most are not predators, but have simply been charged with a sex crime.
By Michele Gillen
MIAMI (CBS4) - The findings of an I-Team investigation into sex predators living in hotels across our community and the state is prompting shock and change. While Chief I-Team Investigator Michele Gillen uncovered this hidden crisis across America; she found one of the most potentially dangerous clusters of sex offenders all living in a hotel right in South Florida's backyard.
"It was a terrible decision to do, it happened, we're undoing it," said Ron Book, president of the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust. That's the response he gave after an I-Team investigation that exposed more than two dozen registered sex offenders, including dangerous sex predators, were living at Miami's Homestead Studio Suites Hotel.
- Were they actually labeled predators on the sex offender registry, or are you just throwing that in there for shock value? And yes, Ron Book has been acting on emotion and not thinking for a very long time. I see he has more fires, like predicted, to put out now... LOL!!
The I-Team learned that most of them had been placed there by the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust -paying the hotel as much as $12 hundred per offender, per month.
- And using tax payer money and/or grant money!
"Understand we were under lots of pressure to close the causeway, that is no excuse to cluster people in a place, and it is no excuse for housing people that are potentially a danger to our children," Book said in a one-on-one interview with Gillen.
During an on-going investigation into sex predators living in America's hotels and motels; the I-Team exposed the fact that sex offenders who had been living under the Julia Tuttle Bridge moved into the hotel to live amid unsuspecting guests families vacationing with children. Business women traveling on their own, even injured and paralyzed boys and girls rescued from the rubble of Haiti were in the building.
"To replace one nightmare with another is not acceptable Michele. And we have had these discussions with our vendor," said Book.
- Then why the hell did you do it Ron? You did it to save your own a--, and now, you have another fire to extinguish!
The vendor, which Book says is responsible for placement of the offenders in the hotel, is Lutheran Services. The agency turned down an I-Team request for an interview. But emails between the Homeless Trust and the City of Miami showed an all out push to get the offenders into the hotel, described by the city as "in need of business." One of those offenders was a notorious sex predator, _____.
- No, Ron Book is responsible for placing the offenders all over the place, after shutting down the Julia Tuttle Causeway, which his lobbying created! Stop blaming others Ron!
"I did not know Mr. _____ was housed there," Book tells Gillen.
- Sure you didn't!
Wes Bledsoe, founder of a Perfect Cause, was first to uncover the cluster of offenders at the Homestead Studio Suites the fact that _____ was living there and re-arrested during his stay.
"It is inconceivable that any organization dealing with sex offenders and sexual predators could consider, much less take any action to house such offenders under the same roof with children, women traveling alone, and other unsuspecting hotel guests," Bledsoe told Gillen in a phone interview. "Clearly no one who made the decision to relocate these offenders went this hotel or they would have seen several Haitian and other children playing on the hotel grounds."
- They have to live somewhere!
The reaction was disbelief by relief agency workers at World Church Services who've placed families with children from Haiti there after they were told of the number of registered sex offenders and predators who had been living at the hotel and were moved there in an effort to close the camp under the Julia Tuttle Bridge. They watched the I-Team investigation with Gillen and were "shocked."
- And everything, was due to Ron Book. He lobbied for the laws, which caused people to not be able to live anywhere, so they moved, and were told to go to the Julia Tuttle Bridge. Then the fire got started and Ron scrambled to get the bridge shut down, now he has yet another fire.
Book said it was the responsibility of Miami-Dade Police to alert residents that sex predators had moved into the neighborhood, "Including those people who might have been living at the hotel," Book said.
But the I-Team discovered that's not exactly how it works.
CBS4's request for an interview with Miami-Dade Police was turned down, but they provided the I-Team a memo stating that in a reverse 991 call system, the department phones and alerts all residents and business that a registered sex predator has moved within a mile of them.
But, they get the call only if they use AT&T phone service. When it came to the hotels and motels; It states the call is only made to the hotels main phone numbers. It will be up to the hotel management to decide whether or not to inform the guests.
Following the I-Team visit to the hotel, the sex offenders from the bridge were reportedly told to move out. Book said they've been relocated to private apartments. But a continued search of the states offender registry shows some of those offenders and others continued to check in and out of hotels across our community.