Thursday, August 19, 2010
By Jade Bulecza
VALDOSTA - A couple of shocking signs outside a Valdosta boarding house have some parents worried.
A sex offender lives in the house that's not far away from a school.
Law enforcers say the man isn't breaking the law and school leaders say students are safe.
This sign may appear to invite sex offenders to stay at this boarding house on East Hill Avenue in Valdosta. But homeowner Tim Winters says he just wants to warn the community that a sex offender lives here.
"There going to stay here until the parents are notified," said Tim Winters.
The boarding house is down the street from the Eastside Learning Institute on Fry Street. School owner Bishop Wade McCrae says he can't control who lives in the area but he does work to make sure children are safe. He asked Winters to take down the signs. They disappeared for a couple of weeks, but now they're back up.
If you drive by this house on Hill Avenue you can't help but notice this sign that reads "Attention: all sex offenders approval..."
"He's trying to make it seem like it's just for sex offenders and that's not the case he has some disabled veterans there, a couple homeless guys," said McCrae.
Winters says six people live in the home including 46-year old [name withheld].
Here he is riding a bike outside of the home.
[name withheld] was convicted of child molestation in 2000. Under Georgia's revised sex offender law, he can legally live at this boarding house, and he is properly registered.
"I rather know who's living next to me around the kids versus not knowing so and you have to teach your kids and train them on what they should do and they should be aware of," said Tanquer Dyers, a parent.
The school has a security system that prevents anyone from getting past the foyer without a code. McCrae says they have good student/teacher ratio and he wants parents to know the students are safe under the watchful eye of his staff.
The Sheriff's Office checks on sex offenders each month to verify they are living where they are registered.
They have had no problems with the man registered at that boarding house.
WE ARE NO LONGER DOING THIS!
I want to try something here. If you are a registered sex offender or a family member of one, please leave a brief comment (500 characters or less, all items over 500 characters will be deleted without warning!) on this blog post, and once we have enough responses, we'll create a video for our YouTube channel.
This will be a chance for you to voice your opinion on these sex offender laws, and people on YouTube can see it.
Once the video is out, which will be once I receive a lot of replies, make sure you leave a comment on the actual video on YouTube, flag it as 5 STARS, and favorite it. The more people who do this, the more likely people will see it.
Here's your chance, speak out. You can be anonymous, or leave your name, if you wish. I will not use your username on the comment, but whatever you put into the comment box. So if you want your name or alias used, leave that.
Once we have enough comments and the video is made, it will be added here, and comments closed for this item. If all goes well, we may do it again.
NOTE: It appears most people are posting comments over 500 characters. Anything over 500 characters will not be used. If you need to see how many characters are in what you have to say, then use this web site to check. Again, anything over 500 characters will eventually be deleted and not used.
By Al Rodbell
The state of California is close to passing a law that is aimed at preventing sexual attacks, yet because of distorted reporting of the rape and murder of two young women including one whose name was incorporated into Chelsea's Law, the effect of this law will probably be just the opposite. And the same forces that has driven this law to near passage also prevents serious objections such as this from reaching the public.
My conclusion to oppose this law was triggered by obtaining a report on the sentencing, imprisonment, parole regulations and procedures surrounding this case produced by the California Sex Offenders Management Board. After carefully reading this and many other documents, and interviewing the chairman of the board of this body, along with other officials, I became convinced that passing this law as is now pending will be a continuation of the legislative mistakes that have occurred over the last six decades.
As the CASOMB report concluded:
California has not effectively prioritized when making policy decisions about the management of convicted sex offenders. Many decisions seem to have been made for political reasons or what feels good at the time. As a result, money and time have been wasted on policies and programs that are politically popular but do not make our communities safer.
When these crimes occurred, The San Diego Union Tribune, the sole remaining metropolitan area newspaper, had recently been sold to a venture capital group. Their business model is to turn around the paper by increasing circulation for a quick profitable sale. As the case progressed, after many hundreds of editorials, articles and letters focusing on the heinous details of the crime and of the criminal, they ran a front page editorial described as "a call to action."
Civic responsibility and increasing circulation are not always compatible, so there was a tendency to ratchet up the rage while minimizing reporting the actual complexity of this particular type of crime, rooted as it is in the dysfunction of our most primitive drive, sexuality.
Since this single metropolitan newspaper still controlled the dialog, they were able to do what was necessary to conflate the early crime, which was relatively minor, with the ultimate murders and rapes by the post prison John Albert Gardner. With no articles, or editorials or even letters printed to challenge them, the perfect poster boy of evil was created, as details could be ignored or reshaped as needed. The law that was forming to prevent crimes such as his could be as loosely constructed as was his biography. Then a phone call by Gardner to the local CBS affiliate complicated things.
In this hour long conversation, Gardner made certain assertions; that his first conviction was an act of rage, a blowup with a friend that turned violent without sexual motivation, and that he accepted a plea out of fear of an even longer sentence. He described his adjustment to life under parole after his release in 2005, which for the first year was without any infractions, something confirmed by the CASOMB report.
He then described what is the most crucial point relating to passage of the current law, how it was only when the residence restrictions of Jessica's Law were implemented that he was forced from his apartment, with no alternate housing available, causing him to live out of his car and lose his steady job, making it impossible to continue child support and the relationship with the mother of his two children.
He requested and recieved a commitment from the interviewer that his statements be validated, not accepted on face value, but investigated. Not only were they never verified or refuted, the substance of this interview has never been reported. And although the full interview is available on their website, the second part of the news report on it was canceled.
Based on my recent conversation with the Chief of staff of Nathan Fletcher who sponsored Chelsea's Law, while his office acknowledges that residence restrictions are problematic, they have no intention of redressing it. Not at this time, not when they are so close to passing this law, not when there is unanimous approval from those in both parties, not when this will be met by accolades from the Union Tribune that may never again mention the "grotesque" effect of forced homelessness due to excessive residence restrictions.
So with the passage of Chelsea's Law, those convicted of early sex crimes against children will spend their lives in containment, some inside prisons, others sequestered by constantly monitored GPS bracelets paid for by imaginary funds from a bankrupt state. And as the Union Tribune admitted, "has the likely practical effect of turning some relatively minor sex offenders into far worse and of spurring paroled violent sex offenders into acting again on their dark impulses."
Democratic state Senator Mark Leno who heads the criminal code committee and Republican Nathan Fletcher have agreed to put off discussion of Jessica Law residence restrictions until next year, although Fletcher has now publicly stated his opposition. The reality is that only at this moment of heightened public emotion could such correction occur, as it is too easily construed as the politically toxic accusation of being "soft on crime."
We must not allow politicized public outrage to continue to produce laws that actually increase these crimes. We must not continue to ignore a painful reality, that It was the tragic flaw of Jessica's Law that may have derailed the rehabilitation that set in motion the chain of events that resulted in the death of two innocent young women. It would be the darkest of ironies if a law named to commemorate the life of one of these young women left this provision that may have contributed to her death unchanged.
An old article, but still a good read.
[name withheld] is a convicted child molester, a registered sex offender, who has served his time and currently lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
So what should society do with him now that he’s out? Watch him like a hawk? Well, that’s already being done via the registry through which he must regularly report his every lifestyle move – where he lives, where he works, what car he drives, where he spends his time.
For many of us the quick answer would be, “Lock him up and throw away the key!” And until I met [name withheld] I would have joined in that chorus. Once a sex offender always a sex offender – that’s been my mantra.
To make a very long story short [name withheld]’s estranged wife accused him of sexually touching their 5 year old daughter during a visitation. Their 7 year old son allegedly saw it happen during a nap time when all three of them had laid down to take a quick snooze. At trial stories changed, physical examinations proved nothing wrong but [name withheld] was sentenced to six years in prison. He says everything you’ve heard about life inside for a convicted child molester is true, it’s the hardest time you can do. [name withheld] says he never ever would have done what he was charged with.
Now that he’s free his children, who live with his mother-in-law, don’t talk to him. His troubled ex-wife died of a methadone overdose while he was serving time.
[name withheld] is getting on with his life. For the last two years he’s been diligently working a job where they don’t mind his past, going to church, showing up for his court mandated checks like clockwork and spending time with [name withheld].
[name withheld] is how I come to know [name withheld]. She is a remarkable woman who at the age of 79 gently tells me I’ve had it all wrong about convicted molesters.
The media, [name withheld] politely scolded me, never talks the convicted innocent or the released offender who truly wants opportunities to live a better life – a job, a place to live, a break from society – none of which comes easy to them.
“It doesn’t matter to me what they did,” [name withheld] said while stressing the faith she and her late husband, Pastor Don, shared. “My mission is to make sure they don’t re-offend.”
“We have redefined the word rape in this country,” she told me as she detailed what she’d learned in recent classes about the eight levels of sex offenses we punish. Many include the kind of behavior that teenagers often engage in: Removal of an item of clothing, skin-on-skin contact, non-penetrating acts. [name withheld] and I discussed the case of 17 year old honor student Genarlow Wilson of Georgia who got 10 years for engaging in an oral act with a willing 15 year old girl at a New Year’s Eve party. His life was ruined.
In her quiet, dignified way [name withheld] says the media fans the flames of ignorance. Reporters stress only the most extreme accounts of perverts who kidnap and kill children. They don’t adequately explain flimsy trial evidence or today’s rampant zeal to convict at even a hint of inappropriate behavior.
[name withheld] followed in Pastor Don’s footsteps, visiting the convicted in prison. Her grown children think she’s “losing her marbles” as she meets and becomes involved with more of these convicts, determined to help them when they get out.
“I believe God can change anyone’s life,” she explained.
Take cross country truck driver [name withheld], for example. [name withheld] says he had sex with a mature looking 16 year old waitress. He gets out next year after serving 10 years. Inside prison he’s been attacked several times and now must walk with a cane.
[name withheld] served 10 years for something he did with a minor when he was 16. When he was released he wanted to go live with his Dad but the courts said no since Dad had a 30 year old felony on his record. Nothing comes easy for these convicts.
And back to [name withheld]. When he recently showed up for his regular 90 day check-in he was suddenly handcuffed and told there were two warrants for his arrest. Never mind that the spelling of the last name, the date of birth and social security number didn’t match [name withheld]’s. He was taken into custody and it was [name withheld] who was there to pick him up when the snafu was finally figured out.
“[name withheld] gives me the benefit of the doubt,” [name withheld] says. “That holds me up to a higher standard and makes me want to life a better life.”
Maybe we could all learn a lesson from [name withheld]. She and [name withheld] have given me a reason to re-think my mantra.