Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Nine-years-old? I am sure these parents would be singing a different tune if it were their own children. This is just sick, in our opinion. Clearly, if all is true, the kid needs help, not ostracism and demonization, and the family and friends should be questioned, kids don't just learn about sex at this age on their own.
By Alex Dunbar
OSWEGO - The superintendent in the Oswego City School District spoke out Tuesday night about a controversy surrounding a 9-year-old student.
The student is accused of sexually assaulting his classmates. Parents have accused the School District of not taking appropriate action to ensure the safety of all children and filed an online petition calling on the district to protect their children.
- Hmm, when a child comes in the school with a sawed off shotgun, shooting and killing people, you don't see parents up in arms about "protect my kids!"
Parents Emily Miner and Felicia Weber say the district has now moved the 9-year-old into Fitzhugh Park Elementary, which their children attend. They've asked the district to provide more details about how they are responding to the allegations. This is part of a Jim Kenyon exclusive investigation.
Miner and Weber both spoke at an Oswego Board of Education meeting on Tuesday night. Miner asked the district to give her some answers about what was being done to keep children safe.
"Is there going to be some kind of assembly? Are parents going to be notified of the situation, or are we just going to have to wait and see how it plays out, and hope nothing happens?" asked Miner.
Superintendent William Crist told the parents that the district is aware of the situation and is working to provide a safe environment; however, he could not discuss the specifics due to the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act.
"I wish I could tell you everything I know. I wish I could settle the concerns that exist in the school and within the community about what things we have in place, not only for individual students, but for the school itself," said Crist at the meeting.
School Board President John Dunsmoor told parents that the board could not discuss any specific case but he did tell the crowd about what had happened in previous circumstances.
"The board has shown support for the administration to give that child a one-on-one person to make sure everyone including the student and other students are safe," said Dunsmoor.
We sure hope so!
By Peter Schelden
Amid legal challenges, Lake Forest decides its law to keep sex offenders out of parks would cost too much to defend in court. Other cities may follow suit.
Lake Forest became the first Orange County city to repeal its ban on sex offenders in parks Tuesday, a move closely watched by community leaders around the county.
Citing the high cost of defending the measure in court, the Lake Forest City Council ended its ban on sex offenders in city parks. Cities such as Mission Viejo, Seal Beach, Fountain Valley, Los Alamitos and Laguna Niguel have similar bans that could be subject to legal challenges by convicted sex offenders. San Juan Capistrano discussed and ultimately rejected a ban out of liability and legal concerns.
It would cost at least $200,000 to defend the law on constitutional grounds, said City Attorney Scott C. Smith. And that's only if the city won, a prospect that seems increasingly questionable. Losing could add penalty costs, including paying the legal fees of the sex offenders who challenge the ban.
The city knew it had a legal battle on its hands when the law passed unanimously last December, said Susan Kang Schroeder, chief of staff for the Orange County district attorney's office.
- Yes, because they knew it was unconstitutional, but they tried to pass it anyway.
"When we were here last year, we told them we would be sued," she said.
Mayor Kathryn McCullough asked if the D.A. would pay the city's legal costs if opponents made good on a promise to sue.
The question set off an argument between her and D.A. Tony Rackauckas. Read a transcript of that argument here.
- Make sure you read this idiots remarks, it's the usual "make the person look pro-sex offender" argument.
Rackauckas said neither he nor the county could be expected to pay the city's fees.
One activist lawyer said she had two clients ready to sue the city if the repeal did not go forward.
"If that ordinance is not repealed, that lawsuit will be filed," said Janice Bellucci, state organizer with California Reform Sex Offender Laws.
Bellucci said only 1.9 percent of California's sex offenders are arrested again for sex crimes. "They are people who have already been in prison, already paid their debt to society," she said.
Lake Forest resident Mary Axelrod said the ban was needed to protect the city's children from molestation.
- Nope, not true. How many kids can you point out who were molested in a park?
"This is a sickness, and the only way to stop this is for them to stay away and avoid the temptation, which is going into a group of children," she said. "I would think the safety of the children would outweigh lawsuits because the people come first in all occasions."
- Well, since most sexual abuse is by family members, maybe you should be pushing for a law to remove all kids from their parents? That would make more sense.
Robert Curtis, a Lake Forest hairdresser convicted 12 years ago of a misdemeanor sex crime, said the ban keeps him from watching over his son in city parks.
Rackauckas said he was unsure if the city's repeal would be repeated around the county, saying "it's pretty hard to call." Currently about half of Orange County's cities have enacted similar laws.
A county law along the same lines is no longer being enforced following the overturned conviction of [name withheld].
Keeping the law on the books but not enforcing it would still leave Lake Forest with "some vulnerability" to lawsuits, Smith said.
The council tentatively reversed the measure on a 4-0 vote with one abstention. The reversal will return later for final approval.
By Will Coldwell
Circles UK's volunteers work alongside police and probation services in running a programme to cut reoffending
When James was released from prison, a year after being convicted for several child sex offences, he felt vulnerable and alone. "There was a lot of just sitting, staring at four walls and twiddling my thumbs," he explains. "It was boring, tedious and frustrating."
The common scenario James found himself in while on licence is also a dangerous one. Statistics show rates of recidivism of between 30% and 50% for serious sexual offenders. Isolation and a lack of normal social interaction can be a significant trigger for reoffending.
This is where Circles UK has been making an impact. The charity works alongside police and probation services to provide convicted sex offenders with "circles of support and accountability", small groups of public volunteers who ensure the offender, or "core member", makes a smooth transition back into society. So far the success rate is impressive, of the 160 offenders it has supported since pilot projects began in 2002, only eight have been reconvicted.
"Without support we end up with an isolated, potentially dangerous offender with nothing to lose," says Annabel Francis, co-ordinator for Circles East of England.
"This really is our worst nightmare because we know they'll reoffend."
- No you don't!
The Circles concept originates in the mid-90s when a group of Quakers in Canada befriended a repeat sex offender and successfully rehabilitated him. This developed into a more formalised programme, which first appeared in the UK 10 years ago.
Thanks to core funding from the Ministry of Justice and bolstered by a growing body of academic research, the charity Circles UK was founded to oversee the development of the scheme across the country, and runs 11 projects. Francis is seeking volunteers for a new one in Peterborough.
Still, Circles has needed to overcome some degree of public antipathy for a scheme that gives so much attention to the offender, rather than the victim.
In 2010 the Sun described Circles volunteers as "paedo-pals". More recently, an appeal due to air on BBC Radio 4 was postponed in light of the Jimmy Savile scandal. The charity had concerns that the intended message that Circles are about the prevention of abuse "may not be heard as clearly as we want it to be".
"With other types of offenders we're much more used to the sense of reform," says Francis.
"I think public consciousness ends once someone goes to jail. My interest is always what's going to happen in 25 years when they get out."
James, who remains on the sex offenders register although he has now finished his licence period, admits that without Circles he may not have been able to cope with the challenges of rebuilding his life.
Bullied as a child and admitting to having other deeply "repressed" feelings, his lack of emotional coping strategies was among a combination of factors that led him to offend. In 2007 he was convicted of numerous counts of downloading abusive images of children and one count of attempting to arrange a sex offence with a minor over the internet.
"I think it's partly genetic, thinking about my family, but I would always withdraw into myself rather than express what I was feeling," says James.
"Obviously my being arrested and incarcerated changed everything."
James had researched Circles himself, so when it was suggested by his probation officer he leapt at the chance to join.
But Circles is not designed to be a quick way out of the criminal justice system.
Through a combination of "encouragement and gentle nagging", James was supported in his search for a job, housing and encouraged to socialise more. His Circle also helped him open up to his parents, with whom his relationship is now "better than it's ever been".
For smacking a woman on the butt? I mean come on! It's obvious he should not have done that, but slam him with a sex crime and ruin him for life?
Prichard Police arrested [name withheld], 16, and charged him with first-degree sex abuse after they said he smacked a woman's backside at a local convenience store. This isn't the young [name withheld]'s first run-in with the law, however.
Amen and God bless this man for doing what he is doing.
By Michelle Ye Hee Lee
Experts and advocates agree there are practical steps Arizona officials could take to improve community safety and limit opportunities for recidivism among sex offenders, particularly those who are homeless.
Among the most important steps: Start a public dialogue about how best to house sex offenders, with the discussion involving municipal and state policy makers, law-enforcement officials and members of the community.
“It’s a very difficult issue,” Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said. “It deserves good, deep thinking to the extent that we are in the same position as every other major metropolitan area and every other state, that we have not effectively dealt with this issue.”
An eight-month review by The Arizona Republic found that the state struggles to monitor, house and reintegrate sex offenders after they are released from prison. An analysis by the newspaper found that large numbers of offenders are homeless and some registered to street corners.
Social, legal and political factors that contribute to the problem will not change quickly, and experts agree that long-term solutions will remain elusive, expensive and politically unpopular.
Not everything would cost money, however. Clarifying and simplifying the responsibilities of agencies involved in tracking homeless sex offenders upon release from prison is one low-cost solution that authorities say could make a difference. Without that, overlapping responsibilities blur the lines of accountability and monitoring offenders is less reliable.
Experts also say the state should review its classifications for offenders, targeting resources and funding law enforcement to better monitor those who are the most violent, dangerous and likely to re-offend.
A 2006 Arizona State University study on sex-offender clustering in Phoenix recommended making it mandatory for local police to do in-person address verifications for the highest-risk offenders.
The researchers said it “would require that policy makers revisit offender classification guidelines to ensure that they accurately reflect the dangers posed to society, and allocate and distribute resources for monitoring accordingly.”
Though the city shelved the report without taking any action, its findings remain relevant today.
- And that is the problem!
“From a public-safety standpoint, if we have all these laws and all these punitive things so that we know where they are, yet we don’t know where they are, then we have a problem,” said David Bridge, managing director of central Phoenix’s Human Services Campus. “There has to be a unified solution here.”
The Arizona Republic gathered other proposals based on interviews with local and national officials familiar with the issue. Their suggestions include:
Create halfway houses, or a campus similar to central Phoenix’s Human Services Campus, strictly for sex offenders.
Supporters believe a temporary living facility modeled after the Human Services Campus would allow offenders to stabilize and receive social services until they are prepared to live independently. Ideally, it would be located in an industrial area or some other place away from schools and families.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons, for example, treats sex offenders much like its other inmates by referring them to halfway houses, where they receive support services. Some federal prisoners are sent to a pair of Phoenix halfway houses, one of which is home to no more than 10 sex offenders at a time, where they serve the last six to 12 months of their sentences.
The Human Services Campus, near 12th Avenue and Madison Street, is a hub for social services, including food and shelter, substance-abuse treatment, job training and public-transit assistance. That $24 million campus was built with a mix of public and private funds.
Mark Holleran, executive director of Central Arizona Shelter Services, said up-front funding of that magnitude is not likely for a sex-offender facility. A more realistic approach would be a small-scale pilot program lasting 12 to 18 months and using temporary trailers or buildings in an isolated area.
Social-service staffers could provide on-site monitoring and supervision. Sex offenders could receive on-site treatment, counseling and job-skills training.
Similarly, at the federal halfway house in Phoenix, inmates are assigned caseworkers and goals are set for substance-abuse recovery, housing and employment, said Virginia Nuñez, administrative assistant at Behavioral Systems Southwest Inc., a federal contractor running the facility.
“The goal is to give them a head start, getting back into society while they’re here, so that they’re not just directly released into the public when they don’t really have anything together,” Nuñez said. “By the time they’re released, they should have some type of release address established, and goals should have been met.”
Bridge noted that sex offenders have unique supervision needs. Proper supervision of their reintegration into society would help keep them from becoming homeless and difficult to track, he said.
“We’ll be at that table. We are affected by this,” Bridge said. “We need to come up with a solution, and we may have to fund a solution.”
Researching and tailoring social services to sex offenders in a pilot program is key, Holleran said. Providers could measure how many offenders find and keep housing and jobs and calculate the cost to duplicate or expand the program, he said.
The idea is popular among human-services officials, but funding is a challenge. Holleran said it likely would require the work of private and public agencies, but he advocates that the state fund the effort.
“It’s difficult enough for me to raise money for homeless families, for women who are victims of domestic violence, for veterans,” Holleran said. “The state, I think, ultimately would have to say, ‘OK, we’re going to provide the funding to make this happen.’”
Seek help from faith-based organizations, prison ministries and community groups willing to be involved in reintegrating newly released offenders.
At least two ministries in Phoenix quietly offer employment and housing to sex offenders. Few organizations publicly tout their involvement in helping these ex-cons because of the social stigma and public fears.
One ministry has operated for four years in an unmarked building in downtown Phoenix. Redeemed Outreach Center (Facebook) runs an eight-month reintegration program that includes sex offenders recently released from prison. Offenders living there do not initially pay rent. They attend Bible studies, undergo counseling and do chores for the ministry until they are stable enough to look for jobs.
On a recent field visit, Surveillance Officer Autumn Freeman visited Stephen Lassiter, 47, a sex offender under supervision of the Maricopa County Adult Probation Department.
This just goes to show you how deep the corruption goes. Every one of those involved should go to prison and be forced to live with the "sex offender" label, since sex was involved. Kind of reminds you of the Stanford prison experiment, or the Milgram experiment (Videos below).
By David Edwards
The North Carolina Department of Public Safety has asked the State Bureau of Investigation to open an investigation after six inmates claimed that guards forced them to burn their genitals with hot pepper sauce, perform simulated sex acts and kiss snakes.
N.C. Department of Public Safety spokesperson Pamela Walker told The Associated Press on Monday that one Sampson Correctional Institution staff member went on leave and another was reassigned after inmates sent a letter the U.S. District Court in Greensboro alleging civil rights violations.
The six inmates claimed that they had been forced to entertain correctional staff by pretending to have sex with each other while nude and perform other humiliating acts.
“The inmates also reported being forced to gulp a super-hot ‘Exotic Hot Sauce’ purchased off the Internet and slather it on their testicles, as well as being forced to grab and kiss wild snakes while working on a road crew and throwing captured bunnies in to oncoming traffic,” The AP reported.
Inmates who cooperated said they were rewarded with better work assignments, food, alcohol and tobacco. Both alcohol and tobacco products are prohibited in North Carolina prisons.
“[Division of Adult Correction] considers the allegations to be serious and the alleged actions in violation of policy, which warrants further review by management,” Walker said.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Joi Elizabeth Peake agreed on Nov. 19 to accept the inmates’ letter for a formal civil rights action, but said that the complaint would have to be re-filed in federal court in Raleigh.
On Tuesday, Walker announced that Sampson Correctional Institution administrator Lafayette Hall had been suspended with leave pending an investigation by the State Bureau of Investigation.
Going To Hell with Ted Haggard - What I learned about grace and redemption through my friendship with a Christian pariah
By Michael Cheshire
I didn't plan to care about Ted Haggard. After all, I have access to Google and a Bible. I heard about what he did and knew it was wrong. I saw the clips from the news and the HBO documentary about his life after his fall. I honestly felt bad for him but figured it was his own undoing. When the topic came up with others I know in ministry, we would feign sadness, but inside we couldn't care less. One close friend said he would understand it more if Ted had just sinned with a woman. I agreed with him at the time. It's amazing how much more mercy I give to people who struggle with sins I understand. The further their sin is from my own personal struggles, the more judgmental and callous I become. I'm not proud of that. It's just where I was at that time in my walk. But that all changed in one short afternoon.
A while back I was having a business lunch at a sports bar in the Denver area with a close atheist friend. He's a great guy and a very deep thinker. During lunch, he pointed at the large TV screen on the wall. It was set to a channel recapping Ted's fall. He pointed his finger at the HD and said, "That is the reason I will not become a Christian. Many of the things you say make sense, Mike, but that's what keeps me away."
It was well after the story had died down, so I had to study the screen to see what my friend was talking about. I assumed he was referring to Ted's hypocrisy. "Hey man, not all of us do things like that," I responded. He laughed and said, "Michael, you just proved my point. See, that guy said sorry a long time ago. Even his wife and kids stayed and forgave him, but all you Christians still seem to hate him. You guys can't forgive him and let him back into your good graces. Every time you talk to me about God, you explain that he will take me as I am. You say he forgives all my failures and will restore my hope, and as long as I stay outside the church, you say God wants to forgive me. But that guy failed while he was one of you, and most of you are still vicious to him." Then he uttered words that left me reeling: "You Christians eat your own. Always have. Always will."
He was running late for a meeting and had to take off. I, however, could barely move. I studied the TV and read the caption as a well-known religious leader kept shoveling dirt on a man who had admitted he was unclean. And at that moment, my heart started to change. I began to distance myself from my previously harsh statements and tried to understand what Ted and his family must have been through. When I brought up the topic to other men and women I love and respect, the very mention of Haggard's name made our conversations toxic. Their reactions were visceral.
Please understand, this isn't just my experience. Just Google his name and read what is said about him in Christian circles. Most Christians would say God can forgive him, but almost universally people agree that God will never use him again. When I pressed the question, "Why can't God still use Ted?" I was dismissed as foolish or silly. Most of these people got mad and demanded I drop the subject. Perhaps they saw something I was missing, but this response seemed strange. After all, I reasoned, Jesus restored Peter after he denied Christ. That's a pretty big deal. And what about the Scripture that teaches us that the gifts and callings of God are irrevocable? So I felt I needed to meet Ted for myself. So I had my assistant track him down for a lunch appointment. I live outside Denver and he was living in Colorado Springs, a little over an hour away. Perfect!