Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Savior, Please - Josh Wilson


GA - Georgia's 'tough on crime' legacy

Original Article
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Tough on crime = Stupid on crime

11/30/2011

By CHARLIE HARPER

Wendy is a fairly normal Georgia housewife and mother. Except that she spent 13 years on Georgia’s sex offender registry.

Just after Wendy turned 17, she engaged in a sexual act with a 15 year old classmate. His parents did not approve of her relationship with their son, and sought the help of their local district attorney who prosecuted Wendy as an adult for statutory rape, garnering her a felony conviction.

Wendy moved on and eventually married another man. They settled into a typical life though they had to choose where they lived carefully. Georgia’s strict sex offender laws restricted how far she could live from many places where children could congregate.

They eventually bought a home, but were told they would have to move when a church opened a day care center within 1,000 feet of their residence.

As Wendy tried to find a legal place to live, Georgia passed an even tougher measure which prohibited sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of any school bus stop. This made it almost impossible for any sex offender to live anywhere legally in Georgia, which was the purpose of the law.

Other laws which controlled who was considered a sex offender have also been strengthened over time, including people like Wendy who had engaged in one time consensual acts, or even teen pranks which may have involved nudity.

Politically, there is currency in strengthening criminal statutes and penalties in this “tough on crime” state. Bills that add restrictions on potential predators represent low hanging fruit for legislators who want to showcase trophy legislation to voters.

The only opposition to proposed bills comes from those who claim the measures are not strong enough, and amendments that are offered are usually ways to make the bills more strict. No legislator wants to be labeled soft on crime.

After 13 years, a court finally removed Wendy from Georgia’s sex offender registry. Her case and others like it forced reforms that allowed for “Romeo and Juliette” cases where adolescents were excluded from registration, as well as minor crimes which did not indicate that the guilty were potential sexual predators.

As legislators prepare for the General Assembly’s next session, a comprehensive Criminal Justice reform package will be on the table. The bill will be based on an appointed Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform report and is aimed at cutting Georgia’s rising prison costs while balancing the need for public safety.

Many of these reforms will be aimed at realigning drug sentencing, but the political will to commit to fixing a system that costs Georgia taxpayers over $1 billion per year and incarcerates one of the nations’ highest percentages of its citizens will be great.

The governor, speaker and other legislative leaders have spent a year laying the ground work to provide cover for legislators to take the financially necessary but political risky move of relaxing some criminal penalties which remain as the relics from past “tough on crime” legislation. Yet the fallout from the Penn State and Syracuse child abuse scandals have opened the door for legislators who want their name in headlines to predictably suggest that they may need to strengthen laws to protect Georgia’s children from child predators.

It is possible that improvements can be made to better protect them from the Jerry Sandusky’s of the world. This would involve careful study of existing law and a deliberative process that improves Georgia’s legal code and protects its most vulnerable citizens.

The Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform has presented a golden opportunity to adjust Georgia’s criminal code. The Penn State scandal represents anl opportunity for enterprising legislators to get their names in headlines, promising to toughen laws on acts which are already criminal and have harsh punishment.

It will take disciplined leadership to ensure that the opportunity taken by the 2012 General Assembly is the one that serves the best long term interests of the state and its citizens, and not the short term interests of a few legislators who wish to feather their nests for re-election.


MS - Alderman (James Hagan) accused of touching a child for lustful purposes

James Hagan
Original Article

11/30/2011

By MARGARET BAKER

Ocean Springs’ Hagan also charged with embezzlement

OCEAN SPRINGS - Ocean Springs Ward 6 Alderman James Hagan was arrested Tuesday on felony charges of touching of a child for lustful purposes and embezzlement, Sheriff Mike Byrd said.

The investigation started at noon Tuesday after deputies received an anonymous tip about Hagan’s alleged sexual misconduct with a girl under the age of 15.

Hagan was picked up at his Moss Point office, where he works as the city’s building code enforcement officer.

Four laptops and one desktop computer were seized. One laptop and the desktop computer were his personal property, two were the property of Moss Point, and the fourth was the property of Ocean Springs, Byrd said.

Hagan had reported the Ocean Springs laptop missing a year ago, resulting in the embezzlement charge, Byrd said. The Ocean Springs laptop was one he’d used as a city alderman.

Hagan was elected Ocean Springs alderman in 2005.

Hagan was employed in Pascagoula in March 2004 as a police officer. He became a code enforcement officer in Pascagoula in 2005. He was fired from that position Nov. 4, 2010, days after Ameristar Casino Hotel in Vicksburg filed a report regarding flooding from Hagan’s casino motel room that had damaged up to six other rooms. At the time, Hagan was representing Pascagoula at a floodplain managers’ conference there.

Hagan was being held Tuesday night at the Jackson County jail pending a bond hearing today.

After Hagan’s arrest, Ocean Springs Mayor Connie Moran said: “We are saddened by the news and the allegations. We can only put our faith in the justice system, and our prayers go out to all involved.”

If convicted of both charges, Hagan could go to prison for up to 25 years.

See Also:


OK - Ollahoma Reform Sex Offender Laws

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CO - Former sheriff (Pat Sullivan) jailed and accused of trying to trade meth for sex

Patrick J. Sullivan Jr./td>
Original Article

11/29/2011

CENTENNIAL - Former Arapahoe County Sheriff Patrick J. Sullivan Jr. is being held inside the county jail named in his honor and is accused of agreeing to exchange meth for sex with a man, according to current Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson.

The arrest came after what Robinson said was a lengthy and thorough investigation by the South Metro Drug Task Force.

The criminal investigation into this matter was initiated on Nov. 17, after several individuals presented credible information that provided probable cause to believe that Sullivan may be involved in the distribution and use of methamphetamine,” Robinson said in a press release distributed at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

As the investigation was being conducted, Sullivan arranged to meet an adult male acquaintance and agreed to provide the male acquaintance with methamphetamine in exchange for a sexual encounter,” officials stated.

Police set up a sting and after providing methamphetamine to the man while being monitored by investigators, Sullivan was arrested at about 4 p.m. and taken into custody, without incident.

The statement said that Sullivan faces charges of unlawful distribution, manufacturing, dispensing or sale of a controlled substance.

Robinson said the investigation into allegations of the criminal activity is continuing, with additional criminal charges involving Sullivan, as well as other suspects are anticipated, Robinson said.

Sullivan, 68, served as the Arapahoe County sheriff from 1984 until his retirement in 2002. Robinson was Sullivan’s undersheriff.

Sullivan went on to head the security department for Cherry Creek Schools. He was active in numerous national programs and issues, including efforts to prepare the country for a national disaster.

Sullivan made headlines early in career by refusing to take state prisoners in the county jail because of crowding and financial issues.

The allegations of criminal behavior involving Pat Sullivan are extraordinarily disturbing,” Robinson said in his statement. “While the arrest of the former sheriff is very troubling, the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office continues to ensure that those who are responsible for criminal behavior and the victimization of our community will be held accountable by the criminal justice system. No one, and particularly a current or a former peace officer, is above the law... This is a very sad time for the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office and our community.”

Sullivan is being held in lieu of a $250,000 bond.


NJ - New Jersey lawyer (Tobin Nilsen) gets 12 years for trying to entice Georgia child (7-year-old) for sex

Original Article

11/29/2011

By Fran Jeffries

A New Jersey lawyer has been sentenced to 12 years in federal prison for trying to have sex with a 7-year-old Georgia girl.

Investigators said Tobin Nilsen, 58, of Buena, N.J., met a woman online and persuaded her to let him have sexual access to her "daughter." Tobin was unaware that the woman was an undercover FBI agent and no child was involved.

He was arrested in New Jersey after buying an airlline ticket to Atlanta to be with the child, according to investigators.

This defendant provides another stark example of how pedophiles’ use of the Internet emboldens them to step from behind their computers and act on their impulses," said U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. "It also shows how the Internet expands child predators’ universe of victims far beyond their local community."

Yates gave these details: In May 2010, Nilsen met the undercover FBI agent in an online chatroom entitled “ChildSlaveSex.” The agent was posing as the mother of a 7-year-old girl.

Nilsen told the "mother" he wanted to introduce the woman's "daughter” to sex. For several weeks, Nilsen provided instructions on how to groom the girl for the sexual encounter. This process included exposing the girl to images of child porn that Nilsen told the mother to download from the Internet.

After Nilsen spoke with the agent on the phone to confirm she was a real female and mother, he bought an airline ticket to Atlanta so he could have sex with the girl, according to Yates.

Several days before his flight, in June 2010, Nilsen was arrested in New Jersey by local authorities when he sought to meet with another minor female as part of a local law enforcement investigation in that jurisdiction.

Nilsen was extradited to Georgia and pleaded guilty in September 2011. On Tuesday, District Court Judge Julie E. Carnes sentenced Nilsen to 12 years in prison to be followed by a lifetime of supervised release. He will be required to register as a sex offender when he leaves prison, Yates said.