Thursday, January 23, 2014
Last November I spoke in front of the Dayton Municipal courthouse regarding the manipulative way area courts use misdemeanor status to avoid recognizing the due process rights of accused men facing serious penalty.
This was my first public speech. It's not something I would normally choose to do, but the subject and the case were important enough to ignore the nervousness (and lack of chances to practice the speech I wrote) and do it anyway. In the end, I'm glad I did. you can't see it in the video, but people walking by stopped to listen. That was very encouraging.
The text of the speech is posted on my blog here.
To see more of Shawn Sutherland's work, visit his YouTube channel.
This is excellent, but does it also include ex-sex offenders? If the video at the end of this article doesn't play, click the link above, which has more than one video available.
By Devin Knight
ALBANY (WALB) - A new state law is a beacon of hope for job seekers with a criminal history.
Albany Second Chance hosted workshops for ex-offenders Monday at Albany Technical College and Albany State University. Speakers from the Georgia Justice Project said state is the second worst in the nation for barriers that keep ex-offenders from finding jobs, but they hope the Record Restriction Law will help.
Many of the hundreds of people crammed together in the Albany Tech Kirkland Conference Center were seeking a new beginning.
"Who doesn't wish they could go back and make it right, you know? But it is what it is," said Frankie Scott, Albany Resident. He, like many others at the Cleaning Up Your Criminal Record workshop, has a criminal history.
"I'm not going back. I got a wife and six kids. So...you know, it keeps my head up but it gets hard," he said.
He was convicted of two felonies more than a decade ago; one for cocaine possession and another for forgery. "You get rehabilitated, but you're still persecuted."
Off probation since 2010, Scott hasn't found a job in over three years because of his crimes.
"We know every year about 400 people return to Dougherty County from prison from federal and states. And when they return, they face several issues. And employment is one of them," said Dr. Charles Ochie, Albany Second Chance Founder & CEO.
Those with misdemeanor charges face similar challenges.
"I have no luck whatsoever. Nobody calls back. Just no luck," said Kasheem Dawson, Albany Resident. Dawson moved to Albany 6 months ago from the Virgin Islands, and hasn't been able to find work.
But organizers say Georgia's Record Restriction Act implemented last July could help offenders. "If they come back six months without a job, most of them will go back to prison again, 'cause an idle man is a devil's workshop," said Dr. Oachie.
People with less serious convictions can file an application with the District Attorney to prevent employers from seeing past charges.
"One of the key things that one of the individuals was talking about was banning the box. That little box when you check off offender that plays a big role here in the city of Albany, as well as the state of Georgia," said Vincent Alston, Workforce 44 Case Manager.
He said employers often won't follow up with applicants who check the box, or are found to have a criminal past. And removing that option, he said, could allow employers to see the potential of each applicant. "But look at what they're doing now. Look at the credentials they obtained. Look at the opportunity and the skills and the experience they can offer your company."
Scott and others with felonies can't apply and face a tough road to care for their children. "So as long as I keep them...keep involving myself in their life, they'll turn out better than I did, and that's my goal," he said.
But steady work, some say, is the final phase of rehabilitation.
During the workshop, a speaker with the Criminal Justice Project said 3.7 Million Georgians have criminal histories. They also said 1 in 13 individuals are under correctional control in Georgia, compared with the national average of 1 in 33.
Albany Second Chance says community support will play a major role in rehabilitating offenders.
Hard to believe this is from the Oprah Winfrey Network!
After convincing his mother to end her relationship with Will, Danny finds out that Will is only listed as a registered sex offender because he dated a 16-year-old when he was 17.
So they talk about the growing numbers and want to pass more laws? How will passing more laws prevent the numbers from growing? Or is it so they can attach their name to the law to look good to the sheeple?
By Gary Pinnell
SEBRING - The number of sex offenders in Highlands County is growing: 130 in 2010, compared with 139 in 2013.
- A whole 9 more in 3 years! Oh the horror!
Even worse, predators - who have committed sexually violent offenses - have nearly doubled, from 14 three years ago to 23 in October 2013, according to Sheriff Susan Benton.
- A whole 9 more in 3 years! Oh the horror!
That's one reason why Sen. Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring, has sponsored SB 522.
- This bill is about civil commitment and even with the law in affect, the numbers will continue to grow, especially the dead people who remain on the list to inflate the fear-factor.
"The current Sexually Violent Predator Program was found to have weaknesses that allowed some sexually violent predators to avoid evaluation and civil commitment," Grimsley said. "These weaknesses were raised in the Sun Sentinel series."
The South Florida Sun Sentinel reported on Aug. 20, 2013 that nearly 600 sexually violent predators had been released, only to be convicted of more than 460 new child molestations, 121 rapes and 14 murders.
- Which is just another fear-mongering report!
In an unusually bipartisan and bicameral effort last week, five bills moved through two House and two Senate panels, including the Committee on Children, Families and Elder Affairs, of which Grimsley is a member. The House Criminal Justice Subcommittee completed the effort by approving the proposals, which will be taken up by the full Legislature in the spring.
"Ladies and gentlemen, you're witnessing the beginning of landmark legislation," said Rep. Ray Pilon, R-Sarasota.
Lawmakers focused on the June murder of 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle in Jacksonville. _____, 57, was accused of abducting, raping and strangling her just three weeks after being released from jail on another sex offense. This time, prosecutors will seek the death penalty.
- Yeah one person committed that crime yet they want to punish all who wear the "sex offender" label? Imagine if we did the same for all other crimes! Everyone would be in prison right now.
"In the Perrywinkle case, let's be clear: the system failed," lobbyist Ron Book told the House panel.
- And using that same logic Mr. Book, did you fail your daughter? Is that why you are so angry?
After release from prison, the state already can civilly commit a sexual offender for treatment if he or she is likely to commit another offense. However, the five bills will plug holes in that civil process. First, said Grimsley, her SB 522 "expands the criteria for civil commitment consideration to include offenders who are serving a sentence in county jail and who have a history of committing a sexually violent offense."
"Second, in certain circumstances, the bill will allow placement of persons who have been inadvertently released from custody without evaluation into civil detention for evaluation," Grimsley said.
"Third, the multidisciplinary teams within the Department of Children and Families will be expanded to include assistant state attorneys, law enforcement officers, and victim advocates," Grimsley said. One must be a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist. The team weighs not just sexual offenses, but attempts, solicitations and conspiracies.
- Why is DCF involved in this in the first place? They are known for kidnapping children on false pretenses. And will their be any sex offender experts on this panel as well or are you stacking the deck against the accused?
"This is intended to help the evaluation teams make better decisions as to whether the person is a sexually violent predator who is likely to commit new sexual crimes unless kept in secure confinement," Grimsley said. Finally, the bill requires that the local sheriff will be notified upon release of a predator back into the community.
"We are very involved with the monitoring of these offenders," Benton said. Deputy Cara Mosely tracks every offender, and the sheriff's office publishes an annual report of sexual offenders in the community and inserts a copy into newspapers.
"We also have Offender Watch, which is accessible from our website, where citizens can see everything and also sign up for email notices of any movement of offenders around whatever address they enter," Benton said. "It could be their home, their child's school or day care."
"If we've learned anything from the evidence, it's that many individuals who specifically go out and target the most vulnerable among us are simply wired differently," said Chairman Matt Gaetz, R-Shalimar. "And I would like to see them behind bars for 50 years - minimally."
- That is your opinion sir, and putting more people behind bars, warehousing them, will not solve any problems, it will only hide it for awhile.
"If there is an opportunity to give them the death penalty, I would be all for it," said Rep. Kionne McGhee, D-Miami.
- So you are all for murdering people who haven't murdered anybody? Or are you specially talking about those who do murder another human being? Just imagine if everybody in the injustice system thought like this man! We'd all be dead!
By Nick McGurk
GREELEY - Sex offenders against children could be allowed to move closer to schools and parks in Greeley.
"We're trying to strike a balance between the need for public safety. We want to protect our kids from sex offenders, versus being able to have these folks rehabilitate and not re-offend out here," Greeley Police Chief Jerry Garner (Email) said.
- At least the sheriff is being rational and showing true statistics! See the video below.
Garner supports an ordinance that would reduce from 750 feet to 300 feet the mandatory distance a sex offender must live from parks, schools, playgrounds and pools.
He said the city attorney suggested the ordinance change out of fear of a lawsuit that could cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars.
"If we don't change our ordinance, we're going to end up getting sued and spending a whole bunch of money," Garner said.
He's referring to a lawsuit the city of Englewood recently lost. The city's sex offender ordinance was so strict that 99 percent of the city was off limits, according to a judge.
Compared to Greeley's 750 feet limit, Englewood mandated 2,000 feet for parks, schools and playgrounds.
Garner said that research shows sex offenders do not usually prowl close to home.
- Most sexual crimes, based on facts, are committed by someone the victim knows and in many cases in their own homes, so yes, those who do "prowl" do so close to home, not near a school, park or playground. A residency restriction does nothing to prevent crime! We agree, if kept, it should be reduced, but it should be eliminated altogether!
"They're smart enough, at least most of them, not to re-offend in their backyard. They're going somewhere else to do this. So, you're probably not causing any danger to kids by reducing the number of feet," he said.
Greeley resident Susan Pope doesn't agree.
"I think they should leave it the way it is," Pope said. "I'm not sure if they've committed a crime if we need to be fair about it."
- Easily said when it doesn't affect your own family or pocket book.
The ordinance will go before city council next month for public comment.
So this would alert people to known ex-offenders who live around them so that they can potentially harass them into moving, etc, but most sexual crimes are committed by someone not on a registry and known by the victim! What about those potential threats?
By Nick Banaszak
FAYETTEVILLE (WHNT) - Officials in Lincoln County, Tennessee are making a push for tougher sex offender notification laws in the Volunteer State.
Lincoln County Commissioners passed a resolution Tuesday night that calls on the Tennessee Legislature to adopt notification standards that most of the state’s neighbors already have. Right now Tennessee lists all of its registered sex offenders on a state website. But Lincoln County Commissioner David Smith said the lack of any requirements for written notification in communities where sex offenders relocate to is unacceptable.
“There is no mailout or no notification to neighborhoods or potential neighbors of these registered sex offenders, so we’re asking the state to change that law,” said Smith. “We’ve received several complaints from citizens that they were not being notified, and it was a shock to them when they found out a sex offender was living next door to them. It is my understanding that there have been some who have moved from Alabama where the laws are much tighter and [more] strict.”
- So what would notification do except allow for the neighbor to harass the ex-offender? If they are living within the law, then what's the problem? If you don't like it, move!
Smith said residents who don’t know about the state website, and those who don’t have internet access, are currently oblivious to potential threats posed by convicted sex offenders who could strike again.
Commissioner Smith said he and his colleagues have received assurances that a bill to toughen notification laws will be introduced on the floor of the Tennessee House in Nashville in the coming weeks.
By Glenna Milberg
MIAMI-DADE COUNTY - Despite a state registry to track sex criminals, and local laws to separate them from kids, countless offenders are currently listed as transient -- all but untraceable by the officers tasked with tracking them.
- Not all ex-offenders have harmed kids or ever will, but leave it up to the media to make it look as if all ex-offenders are child molesting, pedophile predators who are just waiting behind a bush for a kid to come along!
"Officers do address verification," said Miami-Dade Police Department Major Eleasa Thompson, of the Special Victims Bureau. "It's a concern when we go and they say they live under a bridge and we go to that bridge and they're not there."
- So are you expecting them to stay under the bridge 24/7 just waiting for you to come by?
Thompson admitted to Local 10 that there are criminals they simply cannot find.
"This is absurd," said Commissioner Pepe Diaz. "There's no way this can happen, because it circumvents all our laws."
- No, your laws are absurd and unconstitutional!
Diaz led Wednesday's unanimous vote to take a demand to close the loophole to the state -- to require real addresses from sex predators or 24/7 GPS monitoring and felony penalties if they fail to comply, even from those who claim they are homeless.
"They claim they are transient," said MDPD Sgt. Roger Irvine. "We have to take their word for it. We register them 'transient.'"
"People who are not truly homeless are using transient license to avoid monitoring as a predator offender," said Assistant County Attorney Jesse McCarty.
- That is your opinion!
The sex offenders are circumventing the law. The surprise and anger are evident with criminals self-listing as transient.
"Anybody who is a sexual predator wears a bracelet, one of those GPS and we'll know exactly where they are," said Commissioner Javier Souto. "No ifs, buts or maybes."
Wednesday night, state corrections acknowledged the transient listing is an issue and is considering solutions.
By Robert Wolf
I think it is time to take a look at where our political leaders are leading us. America has always been based on the concept that all men are free and there should be no barriers put up barring a person’s liberty’s or freedoms regardless of any defining characteristics that a person has. The most obvious examples are race, color, creed, or religion but there are others also.
There are many historical examples of what has happened when caste systems are put into place the most obvious is Nazi Germany where millions of people were sorted out of the population and any group that was disliked had added restrictions and requirements placed on the them. Eventually leading to their murders. Not only the Jews but Romani (more commonly known in English by the exonym “Gypsies”), Sinti’s, Soviet prisoners of war, Polish and Soviet civilians, , people with disabilities, Jehovah’s Witnesses and other political and religious opponents, which occurred regardless of whether they were of German or non-German ethnic origin. Using this definition, the total number of civilians murdered by the Nazis is between 10 million and 11 million (around 5.7 million Jews and a roughly equal number of non-Jews).
People that believe in this type of law or even that these type of laws are necessary, would fit right in to the upper echelons of Nazi Germany. Now American legislators have started to re-create the Nuremberg Laws from prewar Germany.
We all think about the pictures of people being loaded onto trains like cattle and taken to the concentration camps, but stop and think about what their lives must have been like before it got that far. Everyone had to carry papers with them continuously including children to show who they were and get permission from authorities for movement within their own country any official could stop them and asked them for their papers and if they didn't have their papers or they were out of date they were imprisoned or worse.
Sex offender can continue to post photos, judge says
By Justin Moyer
If nothing else, _____ is not your typical ex-con.
At first glance, he looks like the model returning citizen: After serving more than a decade in prison, _____, 70, returned to the District, started a gallery for prison art and ran for mayor.
His nonprofit organizations have received grants from George Soros’s Open Society Institute and the National Endowment for the Arts and, in 2010, he appeared on the cover of the Washington City Paper .
But _____ is also sex offender. A former pornographer who’s appeared on “The Sally Jesse Raphael Show” and “Geraldo,” _____ was convicted of sexual performance using a minor in 1992 in Florida.
So, every 90 days, _____ must report to D.C.’s Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA), and his photo appears on D.C.’s public registry.
_____ thinks it’s unfair. So, for his latest act, _____ has decided to protest his treatment by creating his own online data base and registering the people who monitor him at the sex offender registry.
Now, in an unusual case that will be heard on Jan. 24, a D.C. Superior Court judge will decide whether a court employee can file a civil protection order to prevent _____ from posting her photo on his anti-registry registry, www.idiotsregistry.info, and distributing her photograph on fliers.
“Here at www.IdiotsRegistry.info you will find the names of politicians and public figures who have encouraged the creation of, or have refused to denounce, government registration websites that target citizens for harassment,” _____’s site reads. “In the tradition of Nazi registration of Jews and Gypsies and the Salem lists of alleged witches, modern government registries are unfair and un-American.”
Stephanie Gray, who works for CSOSA, is asking the court to force _____ to remove her picture from the site.
_____, who was under Gray’s supervision until she got another position at the agency, did not mince words when criticizing Gray.
“Face of Evil: ‘Registry Specialist’ Stephanie Gray shoots icy stare,” _____ posted under a photo of Gray. “Gray requested and received a transfer due to the guilt she felt in her loathsome job.”
_____ said his action was inspired by Supreme Court rulings which hold that sex offender registries are not punitive and do not constitute double jeopardy.
“If it’s not punishment to be on a list, we thought we’d put the people who do the registering on a list,” he said.
Gray took another view.
“He writes derogatory information about me,” Gray wrote in her request for a protection order. “I have been move[d] from the Sex Offender Registry and he continues to trash the bldg. where I am with pictures he has taken of me without me knowing.”
Should _____ prevail,“It would send a message to all sex offenders in the District of Columbia,” according to a petition filed by Gray’s attorneys which accused _____ of stalking. “Convicted criminals required to report to CSOSA could harass them with impunity under the guise of protected political speech.” Gray, through her attorneys, declined comment, as did CSOSA.
_____ has found an ally: the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed an amicus brief on his behalf.
“We think there are some significant First Amendment issues,” said Art Spitzer, legal director of ACLU’s D.C. office, who pointed out that Gray is not alleging physical harm. “Domestic violence laws are supposed to protect people from crimes, but not hurt feelings. . . . People are allowed to embarrass each other and make each other feel bad when making a political point.”
Though _____’s legal strategy is new, sex offender registries have been around for a long time.
Though California became the first state to establish a sex offender registry in 1947, many states followed suit after Megan Kanka, a 7-year-old living in New Jersey, was murdered by her neighbor, a serial sex offender, in 1994. D.C. created its registry in 1999.
Experts in the field said _____’s approach was unusual.
Katie Gotch, a spokesperson for the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, estimated that there are 700,000 sex offenders on registries in America, but wasn’t aware of any who had mounted protests like _____’s.
Should _____ win, Gray’s civil protection request will be denied, but D.C.’s sex offender registry will not be affected.
But, _____ said, he’ll have struck a blow for free speech and shown the flawed logic behind the registry — even if there’s collateral damage.
“Ms. Gray happens to be a very sensitive, compassionate individual who is on the registration list,” _____ said. “It’s a war. . . . They’re involved in this registration thing and unless they move themselves out, we’re going to oppose them.”