Monday, August 8, 2011

TX - Elizabeth Smart addresses child-crimes conference

Elizabeth Smart
Original Article


By Kim Horner

DALLAS -- Elizabeth Smart, who was kidnapped in 2002 and missing for nine months, was in Dallas on Monday to tell law enforcement workers about her "sojourn into hell" and urge investigators to never give up on finding a missing child.

"We can never do enough when it comes to bringing a child home," said Smart, now 23. "Never doubt your efforts or give up on that child because that one child you save could have been me."

She was the keynote speaker at the Crimes Against Children Conference (Program PDF). About 3,000 police officers, physicians, attorneys and social workers from all 50 states and many other countries are attending the four-day event, which is not open to the public.

The conference, in its 23rd year, is the largest of its kind that trains officials to recognize and investigate child abuse. The Dallas Children's Advocacy Center and the Dallas Police Department are hosting the event.

Smart was abducted from her Salt Lake City home -- with a knife held to her neck -- in June 2002 when she was 14. She was rescued after someone spotted her with abductors Brian David Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Eileen Barzee, in Sandy, Utah, in March 2003.

Smart testified against the abductors last fall. Mitchell, a street preacher who Smart's family had hired to fix their leaky roof, was sentenced to life in prison in May. Barzee received a 15-year sentence.
- I think the registry existing in this state in 2003, so why did it not protect them?  Did Ed Smart not check the registry he thinks is so useful?  Also, Ed, at the SORNA debate, once claimed this man was a known sex offender, which is a lie.

In July, the Brigham Young University student became an ABC News contributor to comment on missing child cases. Smart also recently created the Elizabeth Smart Foundation to help protect children.

Smart's father, Ed Smart, also will speak at a workshop titled "Working with Crime Victims and their Families." Joining him will be Patty Wetterling, whose son, Jacob, was abducted by a masked gunman in Minnesota in 1989 when the boy was 11. He is still missing.

The conference also features the prosecutor in the Jaycee Lee Dugard case, Vern Pierson. He will be a presenter at a case study on Phillip Garrido, the man who kidnapped, sexually assaulted and imprisoned 11-year-old Jaycee for 18 years.
- So where are the experts who treat sexual offenders?  All I see is people who convict them!

Cases like Smart's lift the morale of law enforcement workers who often do not get to see such positive outcomes, said Lynn Davis, president and chief executive of the Dallas advocacy center.

The center's staff conducts and records interviews with victims of the most severe cases of child abuse so that they do not have to suffer the trauma of being interviewed repeatedly during an investigation. Davis said Smart's appearance will help attendees see how much their work matters.

"With somebody who was abducted and severely abused for nine months, there's a lot of hope in that the man and his wife were just sentenced to very long terms," he said. "So many times, kids are abused and the bad guys never go to jail."

Lt. Sally Lannom with the Dallas Police Department's child abuse unit said that Smart has shown a lot of courage in telling her story.

"The fact that this is someone who lived to tell about it helps so we can see there is hope," she said.

Smart's appearance also helps other victims see that they can move forward with their lives, Davis said.

"So many people ask us once a child is abused, aren't they a victim for the rest of their lives? We say no," he said. "For someone like Elizabeth Smart to come and talk about the hope and the healing is a wonderful thing for the conference and the whole field."

FL - State toughens policy of restoring rights to freed felons

Original Article
Florida Governor Is Hoping to Restore Felon Voting Rights (2007)


By Steve Bousquet

TALLAHASSEE[offender name 1 withheld] served time for cocaine possession and aggravated battery, but turned his life around and overcame the drug and alcohol addictions that forced him to live on the streets of Miami.

Seven years after walking out of state prison, [offender name 1 withheld], 44, is in law school and helps run a halfway house for addicts. But what he wants most, he can't get: full citizenship and the right to vote.

[offender name 1 withheld] is one of 89,833 people waiting to have their civil rights restored by Gov. Rick Scott and three statewide-elected Cabinet members.

He's in for a long wait.

Under new rules Scott and the Cabinet adopted in March, [offender name 1 withheld] must now wait seven years for a clemency hearing. A huge backlog of pending cases means it likely will take much longer for felons to regain the right to vote, serve on a jury or run for office.

"I find it disheartening," said [offender name 1 withheld], who, as a second-year law school student at Florida International University, could select a jury before he's allowed to serve on one. "A person such as myself, who has rehabilitated his life, for them to tell me that in spite of all of the accomplishments I've made that I'm not eligible to get my rights restored, is wrong. I find it un-American."

Led by Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi, officials scrapped a streamlined clemency process begun by former Gov. Charlie Crist that they felt was too easy for ex-offenders.

The new system, in effect since March, requires felons to be crime-free for at least five years before their clemency petitions can be considered.

Certain classes of violent felons, like [offender name 1 withheld], must wait seven years.

But a new report by the Florida Parole Commission shows that a released felon in Florida whose civil rights are restored is much less likely to commit a new crime than others in the overall population of released prisoners.

The report, quietly delivered to officials a few weeks ago, has not been discussed publicly.

The agency studied 31,000 cases over a two-year period in 2009 and 2010 and found that about 11 percent of people whose civil rights were restored ended up back in custody.

The overall re-offense rate in the state is three times higher — 33 percent — according to the Department of Corrections.

"This report shows clemency is working very well, as 89 percent of convicted felons granted a second chance have not re-offended," said Reggie Garcia, a Tallahassee lawyer who has helped felons navigate the complicated clemency process for the past 17 years.

"This shows that the more you integrate people back into society, the more you're going to reduce crime, save money and make the state safer," said Howard Simon of the American Civil Liberties Union, which strongly protested the new waiting periods for clemency hearings.

Bondi said the report shows that making it harder for felons to regain their civil rights was the correct decision.

"The reason the change was made to the rules was to ensure that felons first prove their rehabilitation through the test of time before having their civil rights restored," Bondi said.

Scott reiterated his view that no ex-convicts should automatically be given their rights back.

"I think we ought to have a process where people apply," Scott said. "That was the biggest thing from my standpoint."

[offender name 2 withheld], 65, of Tampa, served time for strong-arm robbery. He left prison in 1998 and has never been back.

This June, he discovered that his civil rights were revoked 13 years after he was set free.

"It's not right," [offender name 2 withheld] said. "I haven't had any infractions in 16 years. I paid my dues."

Even worse for [offender name 1 withheld], [offender name 2 withheld] and other ex-offenders is that a series of budget cuts has reduced the pace of clemency case reviews to a slow trickle.

The same Parole Commission report shows that the number of cases reviewed fell dramatically over the past two years, from about 25,000 cases in 2009 to fewer than 6,000 cases last year.

Parole Commission spokeswoman Jane Tillman cited "the lack of adequate resources (staff and funding) needed to process the pending caseload" as a factor in the decline in case reviews.

"When they get hit with budget cuts and have to make staffing decisions, processing those cases is not a priority," said Mark Schlakman, a lawyer who closely follows the clemency process.

[offender name 1 withheld] helps other felons regain their civil rights through a group called the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition. The coalition will hold a three-day conference in Orlando this month to discuss clemency strategies.

One bright spot to be discussed is passage of a new state law that removes restoration of civil rights as a condition for felons receiving one of dozens of state occupational licenses.

Advocates say the change will help ex-offenders find jobs, a crucial step in re-entering society.

"You should never give up hope on people who make mistakes," said [offender name 1 withheld], who served three years at a prison in rural Calhoun County. "I use my past as testimony now, instead of a crutch."

Social Networking's Good and Bad Impacts On Kids

Original Article

Parents need to stop allowing kids to be online so much, and force them outside to get exercise and socialize with others. In the good-ole-days, kids were everywhere. Now-a-days you hardly see any kids outside playing. Sad, very sad!


Social media present risks and benefits to children but parents who try to secretly monitor their kids' activities online are wasting their time, according to a presentation at the 119th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association.

"While nobody can deny that Facebook has altered the landscape of social interaction, particularly among young people, we are just now starting to see solid psychological research demonstrating both the positives and the negatives," said Larry D. Rosen, PhD, professor of psychology at California State University, Dominguez Hills.

In a plenary talk entitled, "Poke Me: How Social Networks Can Both Help and Harm Our Kids," Rosen discussed potential adverse effects, including:

  • Teens who use Facebook more often show more narcissistic tendencies while young adults who have a strong Facebook presence show more signs of other psychological disorders, including antisocial behaviors, mania and aggressive tendencies.
  • Daily overuse of media and technology has a negative effect on the health of all children, preteens and teenagers by making them more prone to anxiety, depression, and other psychological disorders, as well as by making them more susceptible to future health problems.
  • Facebook can be distracting and can negatively impact learning. Studies found that middle school, high school and college students who checked Facebook at least once during a 15-minute study period achieved lower grades.

Rosen said new research has also found positive influences linked to social networking, including:

  • Young adults who spend more time on Facebook are better at showing "virtual empathy" to their online friends.
  • Online social networking can help introverted adolescents learn how to socialize behind the safety of various screens, ranging from a two-inch smartphone to a 17-inch laptop.
  • Social networking can provide tools for teaching in compelling ways that engage young students.

For parents, Rosen offered guidance. "If you feel that you have to use some sort of computer program to surreptitiously monitor your child's social networking, you are wasting your time. Your child will find a workaround in a matter of minutes," he said. "You have to start talking about appropriate technology use early and often and build trust, so that when there is a problem, whether it is being bullied or seeing a disturbing image, your child will talk to you about it."

He encouraged parents to assess their child's activities on social networking sites, and discuss removing inappropriate content or connections to people who appear problematic. Parents also need to pay attention to the online trends and the latest technologies, websites and applications children are using, he said.

"Communication is the crux of parenting. You need to talk to your kids, or rather, listen to them," Rosen said. "The ratio of parent listen to parent talk should be at least five-to-one. Talk one minute and listen for five."

Donna Rice - Pedophiles continue to get more sophisticated

LA - Lake Charles sex offender registration law blocked for now

Original Article


By Theresa Schmidt

Earlier this year Lake Charles City Council passed what some suggested might be the strictest sex offender law anywhere. But that law has yet to be implemented due to a lawsuit.

The proposed sex offender registration ordinance would have increased registration fees to six hundred dollars and created more restrictions on where sex offenders can live.
- Requiring anybody to pay a fee or go to jail/prison, is extortion.

In March local sex offender [name withheld] went to court to block the new law.

In his suit, he challenges the constitutionality of the law and says it goes too far that it's more severe and stricter than the state law.

A temporary restraining order has been in place but this morning Judge Mike Canaday granted a preliminary injunction without objection from the city-- which is still researching whether amendments to the ordinance are needed.

[name withheld] doubts the ordinance can be amended in a way that would cause him to drop the suit:

So, the preliminary injunction will prevent the city from moving forward with the ordinance for now. At this point no trial date has been set.

GA - "Operation Storm Troupers" conducts sex offender compliance checks

Original Article

This is nothing more than grandstanding. Maybe they should call it, "Operation Gestapo?"


On August 3rd and 4th, approximately 67 Law Enforcement Officers, Agents, Deputies, Investigators and Administrators from various agencies including the United States Marshals Service (15), United States Secret Service (8), Georgia Department of Corrections (Probation Division - 10), the Georgia State Bureau of Pardons and Paroles 6), the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (10), the Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force (3) and the Troup County Sheriff's Office (15) conducted a sex offender registry compliance operation named "Operation Storm ‘Troup'ers" throughout LaGrange, West Point and Hogansville, in Troup County.

As a result, 115 registered Sex Offenders' addresses were successfully verified. 12 of those registered were found to have moved without giving proper notification; therefore, being non-compliant in regards to the conditions set forth within the legal limitations of their registration. Warrants are, presently, being issued for their arrests.
- And it takes this many Gestapo to check on 115 people?  And how much did this grandstanding operation cost the tax payer?  Also, you will notice, none of them were re-arrested for another sex crime, so the recidivism, for a new sex crime here, is 0%, and for technical violations it's 10%.

The Operation also culminated in an additional 11 arrests for offenses such as Probation Violations, Possession of Marijuana, a Felon in Possession of a Firearm, Assault and Failure to Appear (as scheduled in the appropriate Court).

Further, three weapons and small amounts of Marijuana & Cocaine were seized during the Operation. United States Marshals Service Senior Inspector and Sex Offender Investigations Coordinator for the Northern District of Georgia (Atlanta Division), Katrina Crouse, adds "The main goal of this operation was to conduct a show of force, law enforcement unity and cooperation in keeping a watch on the county's sex offenders; thus, ensuring they are complying will all requirements and apprehending those who have violated state, local and federal laws. In doing so, the operation should increase public safety throughout the greater Troup County area and the State of Georgia."
- When most are in compliance every time you check, how is that increasing public safety?

The Troup County Sheriff's Office, presently, monitors 211 registered Sex Offenders within the Georgia Registry. Some of those offenders live at addresses provided to the Sheriff's Office in accordance with Georgia Law. Others may be incarcerated, while some are also monitored by Probation or Parole authorities.
- And we have been keeping track of the entire state registry for awhile now, and you can see, from our spreadsheet, that the compliance rate is about 98%.  Less than 2% are absconders and less than 2% are predators, yet they treat all offenders as if they are all dangerous predators.

OK - Taking the fun out of a first chocolate soda

Original Article

Welcome to the world where all men are considered pedophiles!


By Michael Lapolla

July 25th was going to be a good day. I planned to take my 6-year-old grandson to his favorite park at 41st Street and Riverside Drive, then to a lunch counter for his first chocolate ice cream soda. We were both excited. I showered, shaved and dressed in freshly pressed khakis and shirt with a nice Italian leather belt.

We arrived at the park at 11:30 a.m. He played for 45 minutes while I watched. Then he asked me to play with him.

As I was helping him on the equipment, we were confronted by a woman who looked at my grandson and asked, "Where is your mother, honey?" She did not acknowledge my presence. The tone was off-putting. I explained to her who I was. Without looking at me she asked my grandson, "Is he really your grandfather?" He just stared at her. Then she started to interrogate me. I stopped the conversation and told her, "That's enough, get lost."

Upon leaving the park a few minutes later, I walked up to her and said I'd like to speak to her privately. Her tensed body language suggested I was an escaped felon or a poisonous snake. I said something like, "Thank you for caring for the safety of my grandson, but I think you need to develop some better manners and kick up the social skills. You can do better than that."

As I walked to my car I was accosted by a second woman and questioned again. She was joined by a third and fourth who started to hector me. One shouted, "You can't leave the park - we called the police."

I saw where this was going. I immediately went past exasperated and irritated and became instantly angry.

It became clear to me that these women had whipped themselves into a near frenzy within some imaginary parallel universe. Adult conversation was not possible. It was clear I was being harassed and slow-danced until the police arrived. They apparently reported me to the police with no possible evidence other than their collective hyperactive imaginations.

I reluctantly agreed to wait in the park for 10 minutes for the police to arrive. The police arrived and the women provided an incoherent and implausible story - then rapidly disappeared.

The police assessed the situation. We had a quiet, civil and professional conversation. It was resolved in a matter of minutes. We agreed that to re-engage the accusers was to waste the time of the police and me.

I left the park and took my grandson for his chocolate ice cream soda. It wasn't as enjoyable as we would have liked. But I will never forget it and neither will he.

Here's what I want to know. Who the hell deputized these women to harass grandfathers in a public park with no evidence or provocation? How do I take my grandson to a public park in the future? Are there consequences for wildly false accusations, or am I the only one who gets tagged? If my 6-year-old grandson was not with me, how did he get to 41st and Riverside by himself?

I have a message for some of the Tulsa public. You know who you are. Be vigilant if you must, but let's not be maternal vigilantes. Don't let your imaginary demons overload your common sense.

Finally, I fear these women spent the day self-righteously congratulating themselves for "doing the right thing for the children," or worse, "it's better to be safe than sorry."

Sell that nonsense to my grandson who wants to know why the police were questioning him. One more thing: He doesn't want to go to that park anymore. Feel better, ladies?