Saturday, March 2, 2013

NC - Men’s shelter turning away sex offenders

Original Article

At least the shelter is trying to help, but what would help more to end this homelessness is for the counties / state to repeal the residency laws which do nothing to prevent / deter crime but creates homelessness and joblessness.


By Cameron Steele

The Men's Shelter of Charlotte is now turning away registered sex offenders as officials try to help the offenders who already live there – some of them for several years – find jobs and homes of their own.

Shelter officials made the decision Friday to not accept any new registered offenders. But Executive Director Carson Dean said they’ve been trying to find a solution for months to the persistent homelessness and joblessness of some 50 sex offenders at the shelter.

It’s very difficult for us,” Dean said. “Because of the offense that’s on their records, it just becomes very difficult for them to get a job, get someone to rent you an apartment.”

Homeless facilities like the Men’s Shelter often become a last resort for sex offenders who are released from prison and must report their addresses to the local sheriff’s office, according to local and state officials.

Between laws that restrict where sex offenders can live -- nowhere near schools, child care centers or parks -- and landlords who don’t want to rent to them, many have trouble finding a place to live even temporarily.

And those “last resorts” often turn sex offenders away, too, according to a 2009 report from the state Department of Corrections. The study shows many community-based shelters across the state have criteria that prevent them from accepting sex offenders.

Some turn sex offenders away because they don’t want to house them alongside women and children.

Others, like the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte, can’t handle the burden of sex offenders who often turn into lifetime shelter residents.

None of the offenders living at the shelter will be kicked out. Dean hopes the decision to turn away new offenders will give shelter case managers more one-on-one time with the registered offenders currently there.

We’re going to help them find some place that they can be in compliance with their offender status,” Dean said.

Just under 800 sex offenders are registered in Mecklenburg County, according to the N.C. Department of Justice.

Dean said he would like to the Department of Corrections and other state and federal agencies play a bigger role in reducing the risk of homelessness for sex offenders.

It’s not the right thing for someone to be stuck in the shelter forever,” he said. “Whether they are coming out of a state or federal prison – those are the resources that should be helping them with housing.”

Department of Corrections officials Saturday were not immediately available for contact.

Shana Rowan, a spokeswoman for a national non-profit advocating fair sex offender registry laws, said county and state legislators should examine how statutory requirements contribute to offender homelessness.

When it comes to sex offenders, we’ve just legislated these people to the point where there’s nowhere for them to live,” Rowan said.

Before the decision to no longer allow sex offenders, the shelter was taking in about two registered men a month.

CT - Ernest Hewett stripped of title after lewd snake comment

Ernest Hewett
Original Article


By Ken Dixon

HARTFORD - A veteran House member from New London was stripped of his deputy speaker title this week after he made a lewd comment during a budget hearing.

Speaker of the House J. Brendan Sharkey said Thursday that Rep. Ernest Hewett made a remark perceived as sexually harassing during an exchange with a 17-year-old intern from the Connecticut Science Center.

After the teenage girl said that working at the science center helped her overcome a fear of snakes, Hewett allegedly made reference to a snake with him, under his desk top.

"The public needs to know this is an environment where they will be respected," Sharkey said. "That kind of language shouldn't be used in any public setting."

After hearing an audiotape of the incident, which occurred Feb. 21, Sharkey stripped Hewett of his deputy speaker title Wednesday. With the removal of the title goes $6,446 in extra pay above the rank-and-file rate of $28,000.

"After I first heard about it, I thought maybe in the broader sense maybe he was misunderstood and it may not be that big a deal," Sharkey said in an interview.

"But based on the audio, it's hard to interpret it that way. It's hard for anyone who heard the audio or was there to think it was anything other than a sexual innuendo."

"I guess the best word I can use to describe this is disturbing," Sharkey said.

Sharkey last week ordered sexual harassment training for all House Democrats who are not in their first or second term. In addition, he has invited women members of the 99-member majority caucus to meet with him and Hewett on Tuesday.

Hewett, a former mayor of New London who is in his fifth term in the House, said Thursday that he wanted to apologize to the young woman, whose identity he did not know.

"Secondly, I want to apologize to my colleagues for the statement I made," he said.

"I take full responsibility for my actions. In hindsight, I can really see how this can be misconstrued as something sexual," Hewett said.

Rep. Kim Fawcett, D-Fairfield, one of the lawmakers invited to the sit-down with Hewett next week, said lawmakers must find the 17-year-old intern.

"The apology needs to go to the 17-year-old girl who testified and the Connecticut Science Center who brought their intern to the Legislature, which submitted her to that kind of harassment," Fawcett said.

CA - Plans Announced To Extend Chelsea’s Law To Illinois And Texas

Original Article


By Katie Euphrat

SAN DIEGO - The father of slain Poway High School senior Chelsea King announced plans today to extend the heart of Chelsea’s Law (AB-1844 PDF) to Illinois and Texas. Brent King and former state Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher made the announcement at a news conference in Balboa Park Friday.

Legislation in both states would enforce the heart of Chelsea’s Law, imprisoning for life those who commit certain violent sexual crimes against children.

A spokeswoman said the law would be tailored to each state, where there are currently less harsh penalties for such crimes.

Three years ago, 17-year-old Chelsea King went for a run and never came back. Registered sex offender John Gardner was later convicted of raping and murdering King. He admitted to killing a second girl, 14-year-old Amber Dubois of Escondido, one year earlier. Gardner is now serving a life sentence at the California State Prison at Corcoran.

Brent King hopes violent sex offenders in Illinois and Texas will soon meet the same fate.

My goal is to have Chelsea’s Law in every state," he said. "At the end of the day, the real objective is a one-strike law that says, ‘If you harm a child, you’re done, you go away for life.’ There doesn’t need to be a second victim.”

Fletcher, who ran for mayor in November and now works for Qualcomm, authored Chelsea’s Law when he was a Republican assemblyman. It was signed into California law on September 9, 2010.

We saw the legislature come together to solve a problem," he said. "Now we need to see that same legislative body come together to see that it’s properly implemented and enforced. But I think that that same spirit will carry us through to other states.”

In its first year, Chelsea’s Law created stricter penalties for 19 convicted sex offenders in San Diego County. A study conducted by the King family’s nonprofit, Chelsea’s Shield, shows that more than 40 people in San Diego County have been charged under Chelsea’s Law.

The nonprofit estimates that most people convicted of raping children in the U.S. are imprisoned for between three and seven years.

Chelsea King’s parents now live with their son Tyler in Illinois, but they’re in town for the annual Finish Chelsea’s Run 5K this Saturday at 7:30 a.m. in Balboa Park.

Hearings for the newly-introduced legislation in Texas and Illinois are expected within a few months. Then, Brent King will be attempting to bring the legislation to Ohio, and more states in the near future.

WI - Former Racine mayor Gary Becker released from prison

Gary Becker
Original Article


RACINE (AP) - The former mayor of Racine has been released from prison after serving time for sexual assault of a child and child enticement.

Gary Becker is back in Racine, living about two blocks from an elementary school. State Department of Corrections officials have confirmed his release and his new address.

Becker was mayor from April 2003 until January 2009. He is now a registered sex offender. Neighbors aren't too happy Becker is living on their block. Alex Marquez, father of two, tells The Journal Times the state should have let neighbors know Becker was moving in.

The former mayor will be on extended supervision for five years. He cannot have contact with minors.

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CO - Former DPD officer (Hector Paez) sentenced in sex assault; judge grants rare appeal bond

Hector Paez
Original Article


By Blair Shiff

DENVER - The former Denver police officer, Hector Paez, was sentenced Friday for sexual assault and kidnapping.

Paez, 33, was convicted after being accused of driving the woman to a secluded spot and forcing her to perform oral sex in March 2010.

He was sentenced to eight years in prison for the kidnapping charges. Following that sentence he would serve ten years to life on the sexual assault charge.

Paez claimed that he took the woman to a secluded location to question her about a drug dealer.

In a very unusual circumstance, the judge is allowing the former officer to avoid prison time while he appeals his conviction if he can post a $100,000 cash or property appeal bond.

In response to the judge's decision, the Denver District Attorney Tweeted, "WOW, Judge in Paez case grants him a bond while he appeals his conviction."

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