Thursday, October 21, 2010

CANADA - Compensation for wrongly convicted

Original Article

10/21/2010

By ANTONELLA ARTUSO

It won’t take away the horrific memory of being falsely accused of assaulting and murdering his niece or of spending 12 years behind bars, but [name withheld] has been awarded $4.25 million as compensation for his ordeal.
- People who are wrongly accused, should be able to sue those who put them there, the lawyers, DA's and judges.  Then maybe the justice system will get back to innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, instead of hearsay, or some sick DA just wanting another conviction under their belt to help their career and paycheck.

David Robins, the Windsor lawyer representing [name withheld], said Thursday that his client is still living with the stigma of having been wrongly labeled a sex offender, the loss of his niece and the impact that had on his relationship with his family.

Money isn’t going to be the quick answer to overcome the challenges he faces,” Robins said. “That said, I believe he’s grateful to receive the compensation and I’m sure that he’s looking forward to moving on with his life.”

[name withheld] was charged and convicted in the death of four-year-old [name withheld] in 1993 based on the evidence of disgraced Ontario forensic pathologist Dr. Charles Smith, who’s faulty work was implicated in a number of wrongful convictions for child deaths.

Immediately after the release of the Goudge Inquiry report in 2008, which looked into the Smith cases, [name withheld] launched a $13-million lawsuit naming Smith and five others as defendants.

Robins said the provincial settlement has brought the lawsuit to an end.

While the government took a long time to set up a compensation process, it moved quickly after it was finally established, he said.

We’re very sorry on behalf of the government of Ontario, the people of Ontario for the terrible pain and suffering that Mr. [name withheld]’s undergone,” Attorney General Chris Bentley said.

Several other cases involving Smith are at various stages in the compensation process, he said.

NDP MPP Andrea Horwath said the government should “sit down with those folks and hammer out some settlements. They need to move on.”
- Someone should do an investigation into how many corrupt officials have put innocent people behind bars, and how many law suits have been filed and resulted in compensation.  So the people can see how much of their tax payer money is being wasted on bogus law suits due to negligence!

Tory MPP Ted Chudleigh said it’s sad that it’s taken this long to compensate someone for such a traumatic event.


CT - Connecticut To Open Sex Offender Facility; Host Town Nervous

Original Article

10/20/2010

By JESSE LEAVENWORTH

MONTVILLE - Lawmakers and law enforcers throughout the nation have tried to corral sex offenders by tracking their movements, limiting where they can live and spotlighting their profiles in public registries.
- And is has been shown, over the last couple years, that GPS doesn't work or deter crime, residency restrictions do not work, but do force people into homelessness, putting them more and risk of re-offending due to the stress of the situation, and also potentially putting others at risk, and the registry doesn't prevent crime or protect anyone either, it's just a fancy online shaming phone book. Nothing is going to be solved, until politicians stop grandstanding and exploiting sex offenders, creating a moral panic for their own benefit. They need to be reviewing and listening to the facts and experts, who will tell you the same things I have said above.

In Connecticut, however, legislators have found a big blind spot in the surveillance net: the period immediately after release from prison when offenders, who are often homeless, are most likely to relapse.
- So why are they homeless? Most are probably homeless because of the residency restrictions making it impossible to find a place to stay, and the online registry makes it almost impossible to find a job, so what do you expect? When you pass draconian, unconstitutional, bad laws, you get bad results.

A law passed in 2008 ordered the state Department of Correction and the Judicial Branch to establish a 24-bed sex offender treatment facility. Now, the state is prepared to open its first halfway house specifically for sex offenders in January on the grounds of the Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center In Montville. The staff will evaluate and counsel inmates and help them find jobs.
- Well, with the residency restrictions and online shaming list, good luck finding them jobs!

"It's not just treatment; it's keeping an eye on them," said state Rep. Mike Lawlor, judiciary committee leader and a former state prosecutor. "It's a way you can avoid just giving the guy a pair of jeans and a bus ticket and saying, 'Good luck.'"

At the same time, however, Montville officials say they are alarmed by the imminent placement of rapists and child molesters in their community. The town council recently passed an ordinance prohibiting sex offenders from stepping foot on any town-owned or -leased land, including parks, playgrounds, sports fields and public school grounds.

The new ordinance and the soon-to-open treatment facility have made this small town in eastern Connecticut a testing ground for the competing goals of red-zoning sex felons and reintegrating them into society.

Town council member Ellen Hillman said local officials are leery of the contract the state signed with the facility's operator. Council members passed the ordinance, which levies a fine of $99 for violators, to provide an extra layer of protection as the town braces for the sex criminals' arrival. Bristol, Danbury and Ridgefield are among communities that have similar rules.

"If this ordinance makes a child safe for the two hours they're playing ball or cheerleading, then it's worth every word written on a piece of paper," Hillman said.
- So prove to me where it will "keep a child safe" for any amount of time! I doesn't protect anybody! If an offender is determined to commit a crime, no law will prevent that.

Council Chairwoman Donna Jacobson said the planned facility was "a knee-jerk reaction to an incident in Southbury."

"Thus, the inevitable conclusion was and is failure, for the legislature enacted a law which had no firm guidelines to provide concurrently for the treatment of offenders or the safety of the community," Jacobson said.

She was referring to the case of [name withheld], a serial rapist who served 24 years in prison. Upon his release, [name withheld] was strapped with an electronic monitoring bracelet and went to live — over neighbors' strenuous objections — with his sister in Southbury. The monitoring system indicated that [name withheld] left the property for 15 minutes on Sept. 3, 2008, but authorities later learned that the GPS signal was faulty.
- And this proves my point, GPS is a waste of tax payer money!

When [name withheld] was released in 2007, Gov. M. Jodi Rell asked state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal to seek a court order preventing [name withheld] from moving to the Southbury neighborhood, but that was unsuccessful. Southbury's first selectman also tried and failed to get support from other selectmen to have [name withheld] removed from his sister's home and committed to a mental institution.
- You cannot tell someone where they can and cannot live.

"Where is the support from my state government for me for doing this for [name withheld]?" [name withheld]'s sister, [name withheld], asked a reporter that year. "Why isn't everyone saying, 'Hey, if she didn't take him in, he'd be on the streets?'"

The [name withheld] case and the Petit family murders in Cheshire in July 2007 revealed wide gaps in the state's supervision of former inmates, Lawlor said. Convicted killer [name withheld] and his alleged accomplice, [name withheld], were both career criminals who had been paroled only months before the triple murder.

Focusing on sex offenders, Lawlor said he and other legislators found that most states have transitional programs for released inmates. That Connecticut lacked such a facility, he said, was "kind of crazy and reckless" because many studies have shown that convicts are most apt to commit more crimes in the months immediately following release.

According to the state's 2010 Annual Recidivism Report, "offenders that were discharged after completing community supervision programs, like parole or transitional supervision, had the lowest recidivism rates among all groups of offenders."

Asked about the criminal profiles of inmates who will be housed in the Montville facility, Lawlor said, "You start with the guys you're most concerned with — the guys you definitely don't want to let out on the streets with no supervision."

All facility residents will be supervised at all times, correction department spokesman Brian Garnett said.

"This is a secured facility on the grounds of a correctional facility," Garnett said.
- It's prison outside of prison, and who would want to live in another prison when they come out?

Facility residents — a combination of inmates finishing their sentences and those on probation — will be escorted whenever they go off-grounds for job interviews or other activities, Garnett said. Also, any job-seeking activities will be limited to the inmates' home towns, he said.
- Escorted? There goes any opportunity for a job! Who would hire someone who has a police guard with them at all times?

The department's goal, Garnett said, is to prepare convicted sex offenders to be law-abiding citizens while also protecting the public. Some sex offenders get treatment in prison, but not all, Garnett said. Many times, both he and Lawlor said, released inmates end up in homeless shelters with no supervision.

"We don't want someone with these issues to be held until the very last day of their sentence and then just show them the door and hope they don't come back," Garnett said.

The facility is to be run by The Connection, a Middletown-based nonprofit human services agency with programs that include the Center for the Treatment of Problem Sexual Behavior. The state contract to run the sex offender facility ends on June 30, 2012, and is capped at a total of $4.5 million.

An inmate's typical stay will be six months. Treatment is to include group and individual counseling sessions, substance abuse monitoring, lie detector tests, and in some cases, "medication to control problematic arousal," according to the contract. A list of the program's core curriculum includes "self management," "empathy and victim awareness," "intimacy, relationships and social functioning" and "strategies for controlling deviant sexual fantasy and arousal."

Hillman, the Montville town council member, said the contract is vague about who will supervise inmates when they go off-grounds. Heide Erb, a spokeswoman for The Connection, said employees of that agency will most likely accompany residents off-grounds.

Hillman said she also worries that inmates may get acclimated to Montville and that nothing can stop them from settling in town once their treatment ends. Erb said the program's goal is to find residents employment and housing in their home towns.

Finally, Hillman said, she has deep doubts about the success of a six-month treatment program for serious sex offenders.

"These people are not people that can be rehabilitated overnight," she said.


CA - State rejects claim by Chelsea King's family

Original Article

This is just absurd. People die and are killed daily by other criminals, government negligence, etc, and are they going to be able to sue simply because they see dollar signs? They should continue to throw this out of court!

10/21/2010

By Michael Gardner

Routine move clears the way for possible lawsuit

SACRAMENTO — In a routine move, a state board has denied a wrongful death claim filed by Brent King of Poway over the murder of his daughter, Chelsea.

The decision by the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board on Thursday clears the way for the Kings to pursue a lawsuit if they choose.

No decision has been made,” said Sara Muller Fraunces, a spokeswoman for the King family.

Seventeen-year-old Chelsea King was killed earlier this year by John Albert Gardner, a previously convicted sex offender. He has pleaded guilty to that crime, as well as the 2009 slaying of Escondido teenager Amber Dubois. Gardner is serving two life sentences without the possibility of parole.

There have been numerous reports of the state failing to track Gardner while he was on parole and missed opportunities to send him back to jail. He was off parole at the time of the murders, however.

Amber’s parents, Moe DuBois and Carrie McGonigle, earlier filed separate claims with the board. Those were rejected by the state board this summer.

We have not made final decisions yet,” Moe Dubois’ attorney, Robin Sax, said in an e-mail message regarding legal action.

The King family filed their claim in late August. At the time they issued a statement:

We are just beginning to think through this issue and are factoring in a variety of options. If any compensation is received in the future, it will be used to further Chelsea’s dream of changing our world for the better.”