Tuesday, March 15, 2011

NY - Local Leaders Fill in County Exec Hopeful on Homeless Sex Offenders

Original Article

03/14/2011

By Joseph Pinciaro

Suffolk County Executive hopeful and current Babylon Supervisor Steve Bellone said he knew a little bit about how the county currently holds homeless sex offenders.

But some things he heard on Monday afternoon, on the first day of his Suffolk County "listening tour," caught him off guard.

"The conditions you describe in these facilities come as a surprise to me," said Bellone, Babylon's Democrat supervisor since 2001, to a group of local legislators and a few civic advocates. "I was not sure those were the conditions."

Bellone further elaborated after the discussion, which lasted for about 75 minutes, that such conditions - not only the lack of permanent housing, but a lack of personal space and even a shower - play a bigger role beyond the face value fact that the ex-criminals don't have several basic needs met.

"The conditions that exist in these trailers and the kind of stress that can place on people who are potentially very dangerous to kids and families," was what he said he took away most following the conversation.

Many people on the East End have become aware of the efforts by Suffolk County Legislators Ed Romaine, R-Center Moriches, and Jay Schneiderman, I-Montauk, to rid the area of housing the entire county's homeless sex offender population - now hovering between 25 and 30. Currently two trailers, located in Riverside and Westhampton, house all of them. However on March 8, the Legislature overrode an executive veto, permitting the County to use a private vendor to place the men and women at six different locations throughout the county.

At Monday's discussion, Bellone heard local representatives all say that they are willing to take "their share" of the county's homeless sex offender population.

But placing two shelters in Southampton "under the darkness of night" is not fair, said Southampton Supervisor Anna Thorne-Holst.

Present at the discussion, which took place in the basement of the Riverhead Free Library, were Romaine, Schneiderman, Holst, Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio, therapist Bill O'Leary, Jamesport reisdent Mason Haas, and Brad Bender, president of the Flanders, Riverside, and Northampton Civic Association.

O'Leary, who has been counseling sex offenders and sex crime victims for over 10 years, explained to Bellone that the current system creates a cycle in which the county is on the defensive, rather than proactively helping the homeless sex offenders get off the street and become productive members of society.

"My more immediate concern is the desperation this creates," he said. O'Leary said that the percentage of sex offenders who are convicted of sex crimes again is "a lot less than people think," at 3.6 percent in New York State (5.3 percent nationally). However, he said, just because they are not convicted again does not mean they are still not a drain on the system - or that the system has helped them.

"Just because they're not reoffending doesn't mean they are not affecting the community in other ways," O'Leary said. "We have a lot more guys violate their curfew or driver permissions, drinking and drugs is a problem ... They don't care if they go back to jail. Then they (get more criminal charges) without getting the transition, supervision, and treatment they need."

Bellone said toward the end of the conversation that he believes "notification and verification," is the best approach moving forward in finding homes for the homeless sex offenders. "Notifying" neighborhoods properly and thoroughly when sex offenders move in, and "verifying" addresses frequently to make sure the sex offenders are at their listed addresses."

Tying the issue back to the reason for his trip - his likely run for county executive - Bellone said he believes it's up to the county executive to communicate effectively and provide one more aspect in improving the current situation.

"Nobody is in a better position to provide education than the county executive," he said. "There is no substitute for the executive branch educating the public about this. And this has been a real education for me."


ID - Overhaul of sex offender laws raises some concerns

Original Article

03/15/2011

By Brad Iverson-Long

The board that assesses Idaho’s most dangerous sex offenders is asking lawmakers not to drop the violent sexual predator (VSP) designation in a proposed overhaul of the state sex offender laws, though that tag has come under constitutional fire. Members of the Sex Offender Classification Board (SOCB) say they’re also concerned that victims of sexual crimes could have less input as the board potentially expands and broadens its scope.

There are people out there that we just shake our heads and say ‘it’s not if this person is going to do something awful, it’s when,’” said Moscelene Sunderland, who serves on the SOCB.

Idaho currently has more than 50 men listed as VSPs, which means they committed serious sex crimes and are deemed by the board as posing a high risk to offend again. However, the SOCB has been unable to label someone as a VSP since a 2009 Idaho Supreme Court case ruled the process of deeming offenders as violent predators violated the state constitution.

The VSP designation allows law enforcement officials to keep closer tabs on select sex offenders, since they have to register in person and by mail more frequently.

Scrapping the VSP is part of the changes to state sex offender laws heard by a Senate committee Monday. The SOCB would also be renamed the Sex Offender Management Board (SOMB) and the state’s reporting requirements for all sex offenders could increase, requiring offenders to tell authorities their car license plates and online accounts, including e-mail.

The changes are part of legislation backed by the Idaho Criminal Justice Commission (ICJC) and follow recommendations from the Center for Sex Offender Management (PDF), a national group that advises state and local governments on dealing with sex offenders. “If this measure is adopted, Idaho will be using the best science available to assess offender risk, hold offenders accountable and protect the public,” said Idaho Department of Correction Director Brent Reinke, who also chairs the ICJC.


It's Time For Our Nation To Be Smart on Crime

Original Article

I do not see anything pertaining to sex offender laws, but over all, it's a good read.

Smart on Crime: Recommendations for the Administration and Congress provides the 112th Congress and the Obama administration with analysis of the problems plaguing our state and federal criminal justice systems and a series of recommendations to address these failures. The report examines the entire criminal justice system, from the creation of new criminal laws to ex-offenders’ reentry into communities after serving their sentences. Our comprehensive recommendations range from helping to restore and empower victims to identifying ways to protect the rights of the accused.

Due to the undeniable human costs and the overwhelming fiscal costs, Americans from diverse political perspectives--particularly professionals with experience in all aspects of the criminal justice system--recognize that the system fails too many, costs too much, and helps too few. Smart on Crime provides the most promising recommendations for resolving our nation’s criminal justice crisis.

Leading Criminal Justice Experts Share Insights

Several Smart on Crime report contributors discussed America’s broken criminal justice system and shared their hopes for concrete reform. We invite you to hear what some of the nation’s leading experts have to say about a system of justice that they are passionate about—in their own words.

Read the rest here | YouTube Channel


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CA - The Death Of Victor Segovia

Original Article

03/15/2011

Early Saturday morning, the 5th of March, 2011, Civil Detainee Victor Segovia died in California's Coalinga State Hospital. He had complained to medical staff of chest pains and difficulty breathing earlier in the evening but was left untreated and told to go to bed. Shortly before 4:00 a.m., he collapsed on the bathroom floor and, despite attempts by other Detainees to get him the timely medical attention he desperately needed, he did not receive it and died shortly thereafter.


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MN - Our View: New ideas welcome on offender policies

Original Article

03/14/2011

State policy makers may finally be able to do what has eluded them for the past decade: Have a reasoned and meaningful debate about changing the Minnesota sex offender treatment program.

It’s long been clear changes are needed in a program that doesn’t work, is growing in size and cost and is on shaky constitutional ground.

More than 600 sex offenders — who have served all their prison time — are held at St. Peter and Moose Lake under indefinite commitment. The number is expected to increase by 50 each year.

No one has ever been released — although one is currently attempting to — which raises constitutional questions: People are not generally held against their will for life for things they might do if released.

A recent state report found, in fact, that the offenders are getting far too little mental health treatment, even less than if they were in prison.

The report also notes the high cost — $120,000 a year for each offender — is triple what taxpayers spend on prisoners.

Lawmakers and the public have begun a relatively calm discussion about ways to change and improve the system. That’s a welcome change from the political bomb-throwing that has surrounded the program in recent years. Members of both political parties have used the sex offender program to castigate opponents.

One recommendation in the report seems ripe for follow-up. It suggests the use of secure halfway houses, with offenders wearing monitoring bracelets, as an alternative for some of those already in or entering the program. The cost is a fraction of the current system — $27,000 a year in some states that use them.

It seems apparent Minnesota commits more offenders than necessary — more per capita than any other state and far more than most states.

There is reason to feel some fear about those held in the sex offender program. No one wants to throw the doors open at the treatment centers. But the public and lawmakers must also accept that there is some risk in limiting the growth in the current system.

It’s a tradeoff virtually every other state has accepted and one Minnesotans should accept as well.