Tuesday, March 4, 2014

FL - Sex-Offender Bills' Critics Say They Won't Stop Most Crimes Against Kids

Don Gaetz
Don Gaetz
Original Article

Politicians do not care about the facts, they only care about what makes themselves look better to the sheeple!

03/04/2014

By JESSICA PALOMBO



As Senate President Don Gaetz had promised, his chamber passed several bills on the first day of session aimed at denying convicted sex offenders the chance to hurt children. But critics of the crackdown say it does nothing to prevent first-time offenses, which they say make up the majority of crimes against kids.

For Diena Thompson, the sex predator legislation is personal. The mother from the Jacksonville suburb of Orange Park said she was at the Capitol Tuesday because of her daughter Somer.

Somer, who was a twin, was walking home from school October 19, 2009, and she was abducted and murdered and subsequently found two days later in the Georgia landfill," Thompson says.
- Why wasn't she being a parent and picking her kid up from school or the bus stop?  Why let a young child walk home from school?  Anybody can tell you that is not safe for anybody!

Somer was 7 years old when a neighbor killed her. In the almost five years since, her mother has been advocating for educational programs in public schools to teach other children how to avoid danger.
- Yes education is the key and should be taught in school and by the parents.

She says, “As a mother in this situation, I can’t help but wonder or think, if Somer had been given the opportunity to receive that program, would I still be talking to all these people? Would I still be here today?
- Or if you taught your child about safety and what to do if someone approaches her.  Parents need to be parents and stop letting Big Brother be their scapegoat when something goes wrong!

The man who killed Somer had no sex crimes on his record. Thompson acknowledges the bill package Gaetz calls the "centerpiece" of the session is not aimed at preventing first-time offenses.

As far as Somer’s case, unfortunately, none of this really would have made a difference for her," she says.
- You may be right, and it may not help others.  If you do not teach your kids about their bodies and safety then how are they suppose to know what to do when a situation arises?  We do believe if safety / abuse courses were taught in school then many children / adults would know what to do when something happens.

But she says she supports increased monitoring and penalties for convicted offenders nonetheless.

I can’t change it for myself. I can’t change it for anyone else that has had this happen to them, but hopefully with these new laws coming in, we’ll be able to help other people. And by getting them educated," she says.

The measures passed Tuesday would make it more likely sex offenders are referred to civil commitment proceedings upon their release from prison, meaning more of them could be committed to a facility or subject to community monitoring. The bills also impose longer prison sentences and monitoring periods after release. And they increase requirements for reporting an offender’s whereabouts, including noting whether they’re on a college campus.
- Longer prison sentences and civil commitment is not going to fix everything.  I may stop one person, but most sexual crimes are by first time offenders.  Education is the key not fear and hysteria!

In his opening remarks, Gaetz said over the past 15 years, 594 Florida sexual offenders had reoffended after serving time for a previous crime.
- Reoffended how?  We are willing to bet most were due to parole / probation violations due to the draconian nature of the unconstitutional laws, but that's only a guess.

Gaetz said, “We will protect our children, and we will scorch the earth against sexually violent predators. And we will start today because we cannot waste one more day and we cannot lose one more child.”
- You need to get off Fantasy Island!  No matter how many laws you pass, people will be violated and (God forbid) murdered.

But critics of the proposed laws call them well-intentioned but ultimately nothing more than “feel-good legislation.” Florida Action Committee President Gail Colletta says Gaetz is pushing something that won’t make children safer.

I understand where he’s coming from and I admire his intent and his beliefs to make Florida a safer state, but instead of saying this is going to be the most unfriendly place for sex offenders, his statement should have been, ‘This is going to be the safest place for children,'” she says.
- You cannot say that since nobody can guarantee Florida will be the "safest" place.  That is another false / wishful statement.  Passing insane laws won't solve anything, you need to be educating children in school!

Colletta’s group advocates for what it calls an evidence-based approach to sex offender legislation. She says the new laws employ more of the tactics that haven’t worked: imposing harsh punishments on all sex offenders regardless of their risk for committing future offenses. She advocates for risk assessments to be administered before sentencing.
- We do not believe in risk assessments at all.  If someone commits a crime then they need to be punished for it, but once they get out of prison and off probation / parole, then they should be able to do what everybody else does without any regulations and insane rules!

And she says violent sex offenders released from prison need step-down housing so they can get re-acclimated to society. "Because some of these guys are going to be, like, 30-plus years that they haven’t been living amongst the rest of us, and now they’re going to be given $100 and a bus ticket," she says.

With research showing more than 95 percent of sexual offenses are committed by first-time offenders, Colletta agrees with Thomspon that education is the most important factor in preventing more cases like Somer’s.

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NY - 15 Years In Environment Of Constant Fear Somehow Fails To Rehabilitate Prisoner

Man behind bars
Original Article

03/04/2014

WOODBOURNE - Reportedly left dumbfounded by the news that recent parolee Terry Raney had been reincarcerated on charges of assault and battery, officials at Woodbourne Correctional Facility struggled Tuesday to make sense of how the prisoner had not been rehabilitated by 15 years of constant threats, physical abuse, and periodic isolation.

It just doesn’t seem possible that an inmate could live for a decade and a half in a completely dehumanizing environment in which violent felons were constantly on the verge of attacking or even killing him and not emerge an emotionally stable, productive member of society,” said chief warden Albert Gunderson, who noted that, as hard as it was to believe, Raney’s recidivism proved that his criminal impulses had not in fact been corrected by the sense of grave distrust he felt toward every other person in the facility, including both fellow inmates and prison authorities, every day since 1999.

We surrounded him with a combustible mix of rival gangs and made sure that he was consumed by a round-the-clock sense of terror that the slightest misstep on his part could result in a sharpened piece of scrap metal being shoved into his neck, and yet he still leaves this facility with the same criminal thoughts and violent mindset as before? I’m truly at a loss for how this could have happened.” Gunderson then noted his additional confusion at how the man’s criminal record and the social stigma of his prison sentence had somehow failed to land him a steady job immediately upon his release.

This story is satire (a parody)


WA - Ray Spencer’s Fight For Justice

Wrongly accused
Original Article

In 1984, the five-year-old daughter of Clyde “Ray” Spencer, a Vancouver, Washington police officer allegedly suggested that he had molested her.

The ensuing investigation lasted eight months and ultimately Clark County authorities charged Spencer, 37, with sexually abusing the girl, her nine-year-old brother, and Spencer’s five-year-old step-son.

In February, 1985, Spencer pled no contest (an Alford plea) to seven counts of first-degree statutory rape and four counts of complicity to statutory rape, arising from allegations that he made the children perform sex acts with each other as he watched. He was sentenced to two life prison terms, plus 14 years.

Spencer later said he entered the plea only after learning that his defense attorney had prepared no defense for the case. His subsequent appeals to set aside the plea were denied and he was denied parole five times because he refused to admit guilt and get sex offender treatment.

After about a decade in prison, Spencer hired Seattle attorney Peter Camiel, who, along with a private investigator, discovered that prosecutors had withheld medical exams showing that there was no physical evidence of abuse, even though the child’s mother contended they had been repeatedly raped. Also withheld was evidence that at the time, the children’s mother was having an affair with the detective supervising the investigation.

The discovery prompted Washington Governor Gary Locke to commute Spencer’s sentence in 2004, although Spencer was placed on supervision for three years.

Not long after, Spencer’s two natural children came forward to say they were never molested or raped by their father. Both of the children testified at a hearing in 2009 that the abuse never occurred. The boy testified that after being repeatedly and extensively questioned, he finally agreed to say he was abused so that the police would leave him alone. The girl testified that she doesn’t recall what she told police, but she did remember getting ice cream. The step-son refused to recant and contended he had been molested.

In October, 2009, based on the Brady violations and recantations, a court of appeals vacated the plea, saying, “The recantations that remained consistent through direct and cross-examination coupled with the significant irregularities in how the case was prosecuted…require that we grant Spencer’s petition and remand for withdrawal of his plea.” On September 29, 2010, Spencer withdrew his plea and at the same time, Clark County prosecutors dismissed the charges.

In June 2011, Spencer, who moved to Sacramento, California to live with the woman he married while in prison, filed a federal lawsuit against Clark County as well as police and prosecutors involved in the case. In February 2014, a jury awarded Spencer $9 million in damages.

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CANADA - Offender re-integration program losing funding

Money
Original Article

03/03/2014

By Galen Eagle

UPDATE: Prison service reverses funding cut to sex-offender program

Those who keep a tight watch on sex offenders in Peterborough while providing supports to ensure they don’t re-offend say they’ll no longer be equipped to do their jobs come September.

Dan Haley has been overseeing Peterborough’s Circles of Support and Accountability (COSA) for 20 years. It’s a program in which regular citizens, supported by local professionals, volunteer their time to accompany high-risk sex offenders as they re-integrate from prison life back into the community.

Public Safety Canada has been funding the programs in 18 communities across Canada as part of a five-year project, but that funding is set to expire in September.

In Peterborough, that will leave some 17 sex offenders without the supports they have come to depend upon, Haley said.

This program works and for the federal government to just pull the plug, our communities aren’t safe,” he said. “This means we are going to have sex offenders that have no support. Can you imagine if they had absolutely nobody working with them, no supports, no accountability whatsoever?

The program in Peterborough has a near perfect record. Haley could only recall a single client who committed a crime while under his watch and no client has ever re-offended sexually in the past 20 years, he said.

It requires a fleet of nearly 100 volunteers, an average of five volunteers per offender, to keep the circles functioning locally. The Parole Board of Canada holds many high-risk sexual offenders beyond their statutory release date to the very last date of their sentence. That means such offenders are typically released back into society without access to follow-up services or support and without the need to abide by any parole conditions.

We have a 20-year history in working in this field. Our numbers are really good. Nobody has re-offended sexually,” he said.

Combined, the programs across Canada have proven to be highly effective at reducing recidivism rates of high-risk sexual offenders, Haley said.

It’ll be devastating across the country. This is about keeping our communities safe. As long as we are going to be releasing people into the community, there needs to be checks and balances,” he said.

Haley’s group receives about $91,000 annually in federal funding to run the program, he said.

Public Safety Canada did not respond to a request for an interview but did provide some background information in an email.

The National Crime Prevention Strategy, which funded the Circles of Support and Accountability project, offers programs that are time-limited designed to determine what programs are effective and cost-efficient interventions, Public Safety Canada said.

From the outset, all partners are made aware that funding is time limited, and in order to continue, alternative funding sources would need to be found, Public Safety Canada said.

The Circles of Support and Accountability project began in fall 2009 and is scheduled to end on Sept. 30. Public Safety Canada contributed a total of $7,412,971 to the project which “demonstrates the government’s commitment to preventing crime and making Canadian streets safe,” it stated in the email.

The expiration of the COSA funding comes as the Conservative government promises to get tougher on sexual offenders before the courts.

Justice Minister Peter MacKay tabled a bill in the House of Commons on Wednesday that would toughen mandatory minimum and maximum jail sentences for a range of sexual offences against children, toughen penalties for repeat offenders who breach probation or court orders and require offenders who harm multiple victims to serve prison terms consecutively.

City police Staff Sgt. Lynne Buehler said the loss of Peterborough’s Circles of Support and Accountability would be a huge blow to the community.

It’s a pretty major loss to our community. They provide an excellent service helping offenders reintegrate into our community and provide them with support that isn’t offered anywhere else,” she said. “They work very closely with us and provide that supervision that is just going to be lost without the funding.”

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GA - Former VPD officer (Michael Linger) faces sex charges

To protect and serve?
Original Article

03/03/2014

By Dave Miller

VALDOSTA (WALB) - Former Valdosta Police Officer Michael Linger, 43, was indicted by a Lowndes County Grand Jury for two counts of Sexual Exploitation of Children.

The indictment stems from an investigation that culminated on October 2, 2013 and was conducted by the Lowndes County District Attorney's Office and the United States Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Linger was investigated for being in possession of visual medium depicting minors under the age of 18.

The Valdosta Police Department Bureau of Investigations and Internal Affairs Investigators worked with Investigators from the District Attorney's Office and ICE Agents during the investigation.

The investigation revealed that this conduct did not take place while Linger was on duty with the Valdosta Police Department. Linger, who was assigned to the Bureau of Patrol Services during his career with the police department, was immediately terminated from his employment as a Valdosta Police Officer on October 3, 2013.

Information regarding the incident and Linger's termination of employment was forwarded by the Valdosta Police Department to the Georgia Peace Officers Standards and Training Council (POST) as an independent investigation by POST would be conducted regarding Linger's peace officer certification.

A grand jury met last week in Valdosta and the indictments were released this morning.


MN - Inside The Razor Wire, Part 1: Tour Of MN Sex Offender Program

Moose Lake
Original Article

03/03/2014

By Susie Jones

The Minnesota Sex Offender Program is “clearly broken” and in need of repair. That’s according to a federal judge who ruled this month on a class action lawsuit, brought against the state, by clients of the program.

WCCO’s Susie Jones begins a series of reports on the Minnesota Sex Offender Program, taking us “Inside the Razor Wire.” We begin with an exclusive tour of the Moose Lake facility.

MOOSE LAKE (WCCO) – Inside the Minnesota Sex Offender Program at Moose Lake, men return to the hallways after being locked inside their rooms to be counted.

It is bright and clean, and doesn't look like you might think it would.

I think they think of something more dark and dingy, something more punitive,” Kevin Moser, who manages the facility, said. “This is a therapeutic community. It is a therapeutic expectation of staff, and clients, who support our clients in positive change.”


About 500 clients live in locked rooms with a bed, a dresser, a desk and their own belongings. The average age is 47 and most are white. They have all served time in prison for sexual offenses and have been civilly committed to the program.

While there, they can learn a trade and get treatment.

Someone could be struggling with anxiety and pedophilia,” Clinical Director Jannine Hebert said.

Hebert is in charge of the therapy the client’s receive. She says the men take part in group sessions three times a week, and their behavior is monitored at all times — with staff keeping a close eye on how they interact with their peers.

Because what we know about people with pedophilic interest is that they are scared of adults and gravitate toward children. So, part of his treatment plan may be this weekend, ‘I’m going to tell you to go play basketball and I’m going to let staff know if you are isolating in the corner,’” she said.

Herbert believes re integration into society is possible and should be attempted.

I want clients to be successful in treatment, so they don’t hurt anyone else going forward,” she said.


On Tuesday, we meet Michael, a sex offender at Moose Lake who molested a 10-year-old girl. He says the system is broken.