Wednesday, January 5, 2011

CA - Punishing sex criminals: a conversation with the author of Chelsea's Law

Original Article (Listen)

01/05/2011

By Rina Palta

California sends about 2% of its imprisoned sex offenders to Coalinga State Hospital for rehabilitation, even after their sentences are complete. However, most sex offenders are released on parole once they've served their prison term. This system has been heavily criticized since registered sex offender John Gardner pled guilty to raping and killing two teenage girls a few years ago in Southern California.

In the wake of those murders, Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, a Republican from San Diego, introduced Chelsea's Law, a bill named after one of Gardner's victims, Chelsea King. The bill was signed into law last September and took effect immediately.

Chelsea's Law does a few things. It gives judges the option of sentencing someone to life without parole in the case of a forcible sex crime against a child. It increases the time some released sex offenders must spend on parole. And it creates a risk assessment system for identifying which sex offenders need more treatment and supervision.

In this interview conducted after Chelsea's Law was passed, KALW's Rina Palta called up Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, to discuss why it was necessary.

NATHAN FLETCHER: Well, let's go back to John Gardner. John Gardner comes out of prison, he has a mental health evaluation when he's released that says, "Do not let him out - he will reoffend, he will hurt young girls again." That was the mental health evaluation, but they didn't have a choice - they let him out, they put him on parole. While he was on parole, he has seven parole violations. You know, seven different times he violates parole, and a lot of them are things that when you talk to experts in the field, are indicators. Marijuana possession, who he's hanging out with, these types of things. So his risk assessment should have gone up, and he should have been afforded more attention and more resources, where someone who is in full compliance and doing the right thing, you probably don't need as much attention or as many resources.

So with a dynamic risk assessment, what we're really trying to do is allow corrections to really focus and prioritize on the people that are most likely to reoffend.

RINA PALTA: On that note, has there been any talk around the capitol of perhaps reforming some of the laws regarding sex offenders that are already on the books that tend to come in the way of CDCR? Like Jessica's Law, obviously the 290 categorization, I think is well-documented that it's overly broad. Has there been any talk about cleaning up these old laws that are on the books?

FLETCHER: Yeah, a number of things came up as we went through this process. One, the initiative is hard because some things you have to go back to the voters on. We aren't writing a bill for all sex offenders. There's nothing in my bill that deals with the 18-year-old or the 17-year-old girlfriend. There's nothing in my bill that deals with the guy that gets drunk and pees on the sidewalk or in the alley. We really tried to focus our efforts specifically who violently, sexually go after young children. So there were conversations about it but at the end of day, a lot of the laws were strengthened but they weren't really addressed or cleaned up.

PALTA: Similarly, I just want to get a sense from you how much you think this bill is going to accomplish. We have thousands and thousands of sex crimes, something like 9,000 a year in California, and our recidivism rate for sex offenders within five years is remarkably lower than one would think - it's only about 4%. So it seems like we are targeting a very small number of people in this bill. What do you think about the amount of resources that is going to have to be dedicated to this bill versus what kind of dent it's going to make in these kinds of crimes that are committed?

FLETCHER: I think it's a very fair question. On the resources question, you know I've talked about how we've offset the costs, but it's still a question - you are going to spend resources. I really think that somebody that violently, sexually goes after a young child is just a different category criminal. And I think it's just a different level of evil. I think that you should focus your attention on those people, so I think the life without parole option, while it may not apply to a large number of people, is certainly going to apply to a category of people who unfortunately I just don't think we can let back out into society. I think it's a good thing to do.

In terms of the increased parole periods, what you're doing is taking people that you fear are likely to reoffend. All of those are forcible, violent sex crimes against children under the age of 14, which is particularly heinous. All of the parole increases are only if the victim is under 14 because we drew that as a point at which we think it's a greater offense because the child is so much younger. And we really just said, "How do we provide the resources to focus to get them when they get released to monitor them and track them and get them the treatment that they need?" And while some stats may point to low recidivism rates, when you look at the number of sex crimes that go unreported, it's staggering. One estimate I read had 85% of them go unreported. In 2001, the Department of Justice did a study of Florida where they did polygraphs on sex offenders who had gone after children, and they found that on average, those people had been committing offenses for 14 years before they got caught the first time and had something like 200 victims. I mean it was staggering, it was really shocking, the DOJ study.
- So show me that study!

So, the recidivism rate may be low, but I think when you look at the number of unreported crimes that go, it's still a very, very serious thing.

PALTA: I just sort of wonder, and I'm not sure if this is true or not, if these laws do give people a false sense of security and make them less alert to the signs of their child being abused...

FLETCHER: Sure, there's nothing in our bill that stops the first offense. And so, I think parents have to be really vigilant in terms of watching their kids, where they go, who they're around, and knowing the signs. I think what we can do is when you have the proper warning that someone's going to reoffend, then you have to do everything in your power to prioritize that person and focus on that person and keep them away from kids, and that's kind of what we're trying to do.


GA - Officer (Quevius Thornton) Accused In Underage Sex Charge

Original Article

01/05/2011

DEKALB COUNTY - A DeKalb County police officer was arrested Tuesday in connection with allegations of sexual misconduct with a 15-year-old girl, police said.

Information brought to the DeKalb Police Department earlier this week led to a criminal probe, DeKalb County police spokesman Jason Gagnon said in a news release.

Quevius Thornton, 29, was charged with two counts of statutory rape, one count of aggravated child molestation and one count of child molestation. He was being held at the DeKalb County Jail.

This type of officer misconduct is inexcusable. It’s inherent in order to maintain the public’s trust that our officers serve with great character and honor,” DeKalb Police Chief William O’Brien said.

Thornton was placed on administrative leave pending termination, Gagnon said. Thornton joined the police department in 2008.


TN - Law Leaves Little Room For Sex Offenders

Original Article

01/04/2011

By Dennis Ferrier

NASHVILLE - A new Tennessee law that was supposed to stop sex offenders from living together may have created a more dangerous situation.

In Nashville alone, 106 sex offenders are homeless, many because of a law in Tennessee that allows just two sex offenders per halfway house, so the halfway houses fill up quickly, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Additionally, sex offenders are often shunned by their family and wander the streets, the TBI said.

One convicted sex offender, who Channel 4 News will call Steve, could not get into a halfway house after being released from prison. He said that he and people like him have a better chance of rehabilitation in a halfway house.

"Upon entry to a halfway house, directly out a prison ... they take your fingerprints, so there's a high accountability," he said.

But with only two sex offenders permitted per halfway house, there's no room, and people like Steve are turned away.

There are 363 homeless sex offenders in the state of Tennessee, according to the TBI. Channel 4 found 31 within a one-mile radius of the Nashville Rescue Mission on Lafayette Street.

Instead of being in the strict halfway house environment, they join the 50 or 60 other parolees on a parole officer's heavy caseload.

"Anytime we have offenders that are homeless, it does pose another set of challenges for our officers," said Bo Irvin of state Probation and Paroles.


CA - Tustin approves tougher sex offender laws

Original Article

01/05/2011

By ELYSSE JAMES

TUSTIN – Registered sex offenders have fewer places they can go in Tustin after the City Council passed a sex offender residency ordinance Tuesday night.

Registered sex offenders in the city already are not allowed to live within 2,000 feet of a school or park and must wear GPS tracking devices.

Now they are prohibited from living within 2,000 feet of a school, day care center or park; though those already living in the city will not have to relocate. About two square miles of the city is not restricted. The rules include those people living in hotels and motels.

The city also is restricting registered sex offenders from loitering within 300 feet of the property line of a day care center, school, school bus stop, park, youth center or other business that provides services to children. Community events such as Tustin Tiller Days or the Dinosaur Dash also are on the prohibited list.

Registered sex offenders are now barred from living in the same multi-family complex or home, unless they are married or related. If an apartment manager or hotel manager knowingly allows more than one registered sex offender in a home, they can be charged with a misdemeanor.

The city clerk will display a map showing where the residential exclusion and child safety zones are located.

"This is an excellent way to protect our children," said Councilman John Nielsen, who introduced the ordinance. "It strengthens and enhances laws that are currently on the books."

In November, a registered violent sex offender was arrested in Tustin on a parole violation as he was being driven to his parole office from Chino State Prison. [name withheld] had been convicted of kidnapping and violently assaulting two young girls 27 years ago in Santa Ana.

[name withheld] had violated his parole by riding alone in a car with a female, officials said. A Tustin woman had picked him up from the prison and was driving the car when the two were pulled over at Red Hill and Edinger avenues.

"These events really kind of hastened my idea to be proactive and strengthen the laws to protect our children," Nielsen said.

Sex offenders are four times more likely to be rearrested for a new sex crime than non-sex offenders, said Tustin police Chief Scott Jordan.
- Yeah, misleading info as usual.  This statistic is from the DOJ study, which they took out of context.  They don't mention that sex offenders have the LOWEST recidivism rates of any other criminal, which is around 3.5% to 5.3%, see here for more studies. If you read the news and the studies, instead of relying on lies, you will see, most people arrested for sex crimes, are those NOT currently a sex offender and are usually family members of the victim, but like I said, the fear-mongering media and politicians don't want you to know the truth.

"The failure to enact local ordinances places cities at risk of having additional registered sex offenders pushed into their city," Jordan said.

Orange, Fullerton and Seal Beach have also created restrictive ordinances, documents state.


US Tax Money Funds Bacha Bazi (Sex with kids) - WikiLeaks

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Cenk Uygur (host of The Young Turks) shares the latest revelation from WikiLeaks regarding US taxpayer money going to fund sex with underage boys in Afghanistan.

The now infamous Wikileaks recently released a cable from Afghanistan revealing U.S. government contractor DynCorp threw a party for Afghan security recruits featuring trafficked boys as the entertainment. Bacha bazi is the Afghan tradition of "boy play" where young boys are dressed up in women's clothing, forced to dance for leering men, and then sold for sex to the highest bidder. Apparently this is the sort of "entertainment" funded by your tax dollars when DynCorp is in charge of security in Afghanistan.

DynCorp is a government contractor which has been providing training for Afghan security and police forces for several years. Though the company is about as transparent as a lead-coated rock, most reports claim over 95% of their budget comes from U.S. taxpayers. That's the same budget that DynCorp used to pay for a party in Kunduz Province for some Afghan police trainees. The entertainment for the evening was bacha bazi boys, whose pimps were paid so the boys would sing and dance for the recruits and then be raped by them afterward. That's your tax dollars at work -- fighting terrorism and extremism in Afghnistan by trafficking little boys for sex with cops-in-training.

In fact, the evidence linking DynCorp to bacha bazi was so damning, Afghan Minister of the Interior Hanif Atmar tried to quash the story. Upon hearing a journalist was investigating DynCorp and the U.S. government's funding of the sex trafficking of young boys in Afghanistan, Atmar warned any publication of the story would "endanger lives," and requested the U.S. suppress the story. Atmar admitted he had arrested eleven Afghans nationals as "facilitators" of the bacha bazi party. But he was only charging them with "purchasing a service from a child," which is illegal under Sharia law and the civil code. And in this case "services" is not used as a euphemism for sex; so far, no one is being held accountable for the young boys whose rapes were paid for by the U.S. taxpayers.

As if this story couldn't get any more outrageous, Atmar went on to say that if news of the incident got out, he was "worried about the image of foreign mentors". In other words, why should something as piddling as the humiliation, objectification, sale, and rape of some children tarnish the good name of DynCorp and all the work (read: money) they're doing in Afghanistan? After all, bacha bazi is growing in popularity in Afghanistan, especially in areas like Kunduz. Why shouldn't U.S. government contractors be able to win local favor by pimping young boys?

Of course, this isn't the first time DynCorp has used U.S. tax dollars to support sex trafficking. In Bosnia in 1999, Kathryn Bolkovac was fired from the company after blowing the whistle on DynCorp's staffers pimping out girls as young as 12 from Eastern European countries. DynCorp settled a lawsuit involving Bolkovac, and her story was recently featured in The Whistleblower, where she was portrayed by Rachel Weiss. It's a happy ending for one DynCorp whistle blower, but will there be a Bolkovac in Afghanistan?

It's time American taxpayers demanded a zero tolerance policy on our money being used to support child sex trafficking overseas. Tell the UN Mission to Afghanistan the time has come to crack down on those who buy and sell boys in bacha bazi, whether they're Afghans or U.S. government contractors, security personnel or citizens. No one should be able to traffic children for sex and get away with it, and that includes repeat offender DynCorp. We have a right to demand our tax dollars go to fight trafficking, not support it. And we have a right to demand the U.S. government and their contractors be held accountable for exploiting the boys of Afghanistan.