Wednesday, November 10, 2010
How could four men confess to a brutal crime that they didn't commit? FRONTLINE goes inside the incredible saga of the Norfolk Four -- a case that cracks open the justice system to reveal almost everything that goes wrong when innocent people get convicted.
By Lenore Skenazy
What kind of safety device would a completely crazy parent dream up for her kindergartener?
How about a little thing you could strap on the kid's chest -- one part under his shirt, one part over? The part on the outside would look like a mini wallet. It'd have a camera and a GPS in it. That way it could pinpoint where the kid is at any moment, and snap pictures of whatever he's looking at. Or at least whatever his chest is facing. Throughout the day you'd get photos of the classroom, the playground, the bottom of the kid above him on the jungle gym. (Uh -- delete that pretty quickly.)
But that's not really enough, right? I mean, if you only get a photo say, every half hour, what if your child is in serious trouble just five minutes after the last update? You wouldn't know until it was too late! That's why you'd want another little part of the device under his shirt, monitoring his pulse. If his heart started beating harder than usual, the outside device could immediately snap an extra picture and send you an alert. Then you could check to see if he's being kidnapped or perhaps playing a game of tag. Either way, it's good to know, right?
And now you can.
A team of technicians from Japan's University of Tsukuba has developed exactly that device, and they're already testing it on 10 compliant children, ages 2 to 6. The next iteration will include a small microphone, so parents can listen in to their kids' conversation. It will also record and store the chatter. So sometime soon, parents will be able to see, hear, locate and pulse-check their children any time of the day.
Which is sort of where I expected society would be heading.
Remember when I wrote about a mom who let her 5-year-old wait in the children's room while she went upstairs to check out a book? "That mom was crazy!" screamed the comments. "Anything could have happened."
Ah, but if she'd strapped this new gizmo on her kid, maybe the commenters would have cut her a break. After all, she'd still be hovering for those three minutes she was out of the room.
When and if these devices become routine, parents will spend a good portion of their day remotely checking for predators and bullies. Kids will feel naked and scared without their "invisible" protectors. And the only thing lost will be the ability to think about anything except danger. All. The. Time.
By Danielle Ameden
FRAMINGHAM - The town may be on its way to regulating where convicted sex offenders can live or congregate when they're within town borders.
Associate Town Counsel Barbara Saint Andre told selectmen last night that the town could mimic what Natick, Ashland, Marlborough and other communities have done.
Selectman Jason Smith, who has pushed for the restrictions, said a bylaw would give the town teeth to protect kids from registered offenders - and specifically Level 3 registrants who have repeatedly assaulted children.
"These animals need to stay away from our youth," Smith said.
- Well, the laws affect all sex offenders, and not all ex-sex offenders have harmed children.
"I think we absolutely have to do this," Selectman Ginger Esty echoed.
Saint Andre said Framingham could set up boundaries that control where sex offenders live, like Marlborough has - similar to how adult entertainment businesses are only allowed in a specific zone.
If the town were to adopt anything too restrictive, though, "then you have constitutional issues," she said.
- Telling any person where they can and cannot live, is unconstitutional, period.
"You have to give some freedom of movement to a person," she added.
- And the fact is, where someone lives, has nothing to do with if they will commit another related crime or not, it's nothing more than exile, not based on facts.
The town could instead prevent offenders from going to parks, schools, and specific other areas where children and families would be.
"It actually in many ways makes more sense," Saint Andre said.
Ashland has rules that prohibit sex offenders from coming within 300 feet of certain organized youth activities on town property, such as sporting events, library reading hours and day camps, Saint Andre said.
Natick "virtually copied" those provisions, she said.
Selectman Charlie Sisitsky, however, while supporting the idea of a sex offender bylaw, questioned whether it would "create a major enforcement problem."
Saint Andre said the bylaw wouldn't be perfect, but it would be "another enforcement tool."
Selectmen Vice Chairwoman Laurie Lee said it was "quite a shock" and a strong statement when Marlborough came out with its ordinance restricting where sex offenders can live in the city - and the attorney general not only approved the measure but said she would defend it.
Framingham "might want something like what Marlborough has," Lee said.
Chairman Dennis Giombetti said the board can draw up a proposal and plan to present it to annual Town Meeting next year.
Giombetti named Smith and Esty to a committee with town counsel and Police Chief Steven Carl that will research and report back on "what they think is the best (thing) for Framingham."
By MARGARET BAKER
OCEAN SPRINGS — A former Ocean Springs police officer was arrested Tuesday on six counts of possession of child pornography on a police-issued computer, Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd said.
Lee Leonard, 46, was arrested at his home on Charlie Hudson Road in north Escatawpa Tuesday evening, Byrd said. Sheriff’s investigators also seized his home computer for further analysis. If additional images of children engaged in sex acts are found on that computer, the sheriff said additional charge could follow.
“This is no reflection on the Ocean Springs Police Department,” Byrd said, adding that Ocean Springs police officers first alerted deputies of possible criminal wrongdoing.
Leonard is the second Ocean Springs police officer accused of possession of child pornography on his police-issued computer.
Steven Futral, the Police Department’s former public information officer, was arrested in June and is awaiting trial on numerous counts of child pornography possession.
Futral also was accused of having child pornography on his home computer.
In both cases, investigators used technology available through Attorney General Jim Hood’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
Ocean Springs Deputy Chief Mark Dunston said his office first initiated a probe after the department’s computer system detected possible inappropriate activity on Leonard’s computer. When Leonard was told he was needed for questioning, Dunston said he abruptly resigned.
“He dropped off his stuff ... and a resignation letter in the parking lot at night,” Dunston said. Leonard resigned on Oct. 14.
Ocean Springs police later contacted the Sheriff’s Department to investigate further. Police Capt. Mike Sweeney assisted deputies in the investigation, Dunston said.
Leonard worked for the Ocean Springs Police Department for about three years, Dunston said. He also worked in the past as patrol deputy at the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department.
Leonard remained jailed Tuesday night pending a bond hearing.
If convicted, he could go to prison for 40 years on each count.
Since Futral’s arrest earlier this year, Dunston said the department has been “especially vigilant” in tracking any possible illegal or improper use of city-owned computers.
In both cases, the officers are accused of downloading images and movies of minors engaged in sex acts from websites. Each count reflects multiple images downloaded from each individual website.
Why do we even have a Constitution, if it means absolutely nothing?
By Henry Rosoff
Village Board considers making law retroactive
Fox Point debates a law that would stop sex offenders from moving to the village. They could go one step further, and include people already living in the community. The Fox Point Village Board passed a sex offender restriction similar to the one in Franklin and other communities that regulates where these offenders can and cannot live.
Many attending the November 9th meeting are pushing for the passage of a new law that will solve an emerging problem. The outcry originates from the neighborhood Registered Sex Offender 41-year-old [name withheld] where neighbors are on high alert.
Under pressure the village board passed a new law banning sex offenders from living within 1500 ft. of a part, school, daycare, or other places that attracts children.
Some parents aren't pleased with the new law, because it doesn't remove [name withheld] from their neighborhood.
The council is debating making the law retroactive, but that could mean a long legal battle for the village.