Wednesday, March 5, 2014

NY - The Box: Teens in Solitary Confinement in U.S. Jails, Prisons and Juvenile Halls

Video Description:
Read the stories at https://medium.com/solitary-lives. Every year, thousands of teens are placed in solitary confinement cells in juvenile halls, jails and prisons nationwide. This animation tells the story of Ismael "Izzy" Nazario and the time he spent in solitary confinement in New York City's Rikers Island jail. This story is based on an investigation by The Center for Investigative Reporting and was created using real audio from an interview with Nazario. It features music from Mos Def. www.cironline.org

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NY - City officer (Adam Schwabrow) facing a year in jail for raping a 16-year-old girl

Adam Schwabrow
Adam Schwabrow
Original Article

03/05/2014

By MICHAEL ANICH

JOHNSTOWN - Former city Patrolman Adam Schwabrow has gone from law-enforcement officer to sex offender.

Schwabrow pleaded guilty Tuesday in Fulton County Court to raping a 16-year-old girl in May 2011 and is expected to be sentenced this spring to a year in jail.

He also resigned Tuesday from the city Police Department and will be required by the state to register as a sex offender.

The sentencing of Schwabrow, 32, is scheduled for 10 a.m. May 13 at the County Courthouse.

Schwabrow's attorney, Michael McDermott of Albany, said today Schwabrow "regrets decisions he made" and is remorseful.

"With this letter, I hereby submit my resignation from the Johnstown Police Department as a police officer, effective immediately," stated a letter dated Tuesday from Schwabrow to Chief Mark Gifford.

Gifford couldn't be reached this morning for comment.

Schwabrow, a nine-year veteran of the city police force, was a former K-9 handler and president of the Johnstown Police Benevolent Association.

"It's something hopefully that we're putting behind us," Mayor Michael Julius said today of the Schwabrow case.

Schwabrow entered his guilty plea to felony third-degree rape before acting Fulton County Court Judge Peter Feldstein.

In a news release issued Tuesday by Saratoga County District Attorney James A. Murphy III, whose office prosecuted the case, he noted Schwabrow was not on duty at the time of the crime and no force was alleged.

"As an adult, he should know better than to have sex with a minor, and that is exactly why the statute is written, to protect young girls," Murphy said in the news release. "Someone who commits a felony and exercises such horrific judgment should never be a police officer and that is why we insisted on a resignation as part of the felony conviction and jail time. In addition, he will be registered with the New York Sex Offender Registry upon his release from jail."

Saratoga County Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Buckley, who prosecuted the case, also issued a statement.

"The victim was fully cooperative in the prosecution and is relieved this part of her life is over," Buckley said. "She is satisfied that he [pleaded] guilty to a felony and has resigned as a police officer. "

Defense attorney McDermott said Schwabrow has been remorseful and stands ready to take his punishment.

"He regrets decisions he made," McDermott said. "He regrets any harm he did. He takes full responsibility for his actions."

McDermott said his client has no fear of being an ex-police officer incarcerated among criminals.

"He's confident he will serve his time and move on with it," he said.

Schwabrow was charged Sept. 19 by his own department with felony third-degree rape, commonly known as statutory rape.

He could have faced 1 1/3 to four years in state prison for the charge. Schwabrow had been free on $5,000 cash bail.

Schwabrow was suspended with pay after his arrest.

Schwabrow had also served as director of the Montgomery County Emergency Management Office, but the county replaced him after his arrest.

Gifford previously said Schwabrow was arrested after an investigation uncovered evidence he had sexual contact with the girl.

Murphy said last fall the victim "was known to the defendant" and that Schwabrow didn't attack the victim.

He also said his office was investigating whether Schwabrow pulled his police firearm while fellow officers were trying to arrest him in September at the station. Schwabrow was never charged with a crime related to that alleged incident.

Fulton County District Attorney Louise Sira said after the arrest the alleged rape took place in the city of Johnstown. She said there has been no allegation or evidence of forced sexual contact between Schwabrow and the victim.

She said forced sexual contact typically falls under the category of first-degree rape, which was not alleged in this case.

She said people younger than 17 in New York state cannot legally consent to sexual contact with an adult.

Sira on Tuesday said in a prepared statement, "Officer Schwabrow resigned his position with the Johnstown Police Department effective today at 1 p.m. as part of the plea agreement entered into with the Saratoga County DA's office. Schwabrow was previously ordered to surrender any firearms at the time of arrest, which occurred on September 19, 2013, including his duty revolver and other personal firearms. The DA's office was not provided a list of the firearms, but they were surrendered to the Fulton County Sheriff's Department."

Sira added, "In addition, at the time of sentencing, Schwabrow is expected to receive one year in the Fulton County Jail together with appropriate fines and surcharges."


CANADA - Conservatives propose public sex offender registry, despite its failure in the U.S.

Peter MacKay
Peter MacKay
Original Article

03/05/2014

By Robyn Urback

The federal Conservatives have announced they are continuing their pursuit of the lowest of low-hanging fruit: registered sex offenders. The Tougher Penalties for Sexual Predators Act, which was formally tabled in the House of Commons Feb. 26, includes nine proposals for dealing with those convicted of sexual offences, including increasing prison sentences for certain child sexual offences and harsher penalties for violations of release conditions. Some of the proposals, quite appropriately, assign greater severity to a system of punishment that if often derided as far too lenient. But nestled among the fairly uncontroversial amendments is a proposal to create a public sex offender registry that would be accessible to anyone in Canada. While Canada already has a database of registered sex offenders, this proposal would make the names and personal information of high-risk sexual offenders available to anyone who wishes to seek them out.

Sex offenders are surely the easiest of targets for the Tories, who relied on the consensus of ill-will toward them in trying to push through their 2012 online surveillance bill, when then-safety minister Vic Toews foolishly suggested the bill’s critics were siding with “child pornographers.” The Tories haven’t gone that far this time, but are framing their proposal for a public sex offender registry as a child safety initiative. “This isn’t to encourage vigilantism,” said Justice Minister Peter MacKay. “It’s to encourage protecting children from past proven behaviours.” One would hope longer prison sentences and tighter release conditions — which are covered in the bill’s other proposals — would offer that protection, not mom or dad logging onto an online database. But an at-your-fingertips list of sex offenders is just gravy on an easy-win bill for the Conservatives.

There’s just one problem: public registries of sex offenders have proven to be an abject failure in the United States. While cases of extreme vigilantism are rare, they do happen. Convicted felon Patrick Drum, for example, was sentenced to life in prison in 2012 after he killed two registered sex offenders in Washington because, according to Drum, “they deserved to die.” But more often, vigilante justice takes more subtle forms including harassment and vandalism, which forces many registered sex offenders out of communities and onto the streets. Countless studies show higher rates of recidivism among homeless offenders, and one report from the Journal of Law and Economics in 2011 found slightly higher rates of sex crimes in states where sex offender registries are made public. Why? Offenders have a much harder time reintegrating into normal society and embracing rehabilitation when their name is on a public list. Thus, they become more likely to reoffend.


NEW ZEALAND - Another attempt to establish a sex offenders register

Anne Tolley
Anne Tolley
Original Article

03/06/2014

By Felix Marwick and Sam Thompson

The Police Minister says research has been done on how to establish a sex offenders register in New Zealand.

Police and the Corrections Department are working on the proposal and legislation enabling a register could go to Parliament before the election.

Police Minister Anne Tolley says they've had a look at problems that were identified when former ACT MP Deborah Coddington tried - and failed - to establish such a register a decade ago.

"Certainly had a look at that. I've looked at other jurisdictions and we've tried to learn from that."

Ms Tolley says police and corrections are already sharing information around the issue.

"I'd like to see the legislation in the house before the election but it's a pretty full programme. It will work its way through the Cabinet process."

She says the register would be administered by police in conjunction with the Corrections Department.

Deborah Coddington is welcoming Anne Tolley's move.

There have been arguments that the register will be used by vigilantes to attack the sex offenders.

But she says the register wouldn't be a wholesale release to the public.

"I think that people like school principals, police, those sort of people will always be responsible with this information and it will no doubt keep a lot more children safe."

But the latest bid has already fallen foul of the Greens.

Co-Leader Metiria Turei says her Party's never supported a register in the past as they don't think it's the way to provide safety for families and children.

"It is something of a distraction from what's really needed which is investment in families and children, investment in services that protect against family violence."


NY - Disabled sex offenders being unfairly vilified

Letter
Original Article

It's not just disabled ex-offenders but all ex-offenders, but glad you are speaking out on today's modern day lepers and scapegoats.

03/05/2014

We are writing on behalf of the board and members of the Self-Advocacy Association of New York State (SANYS). We are an organization run by and for people with developmental disabilities. We help people speak up for themselves and others.

With this letter, we are speaking up for eight men with developmental disabilities who have a sex-offender status and who have moved into the Buffalo area. We are sad and upset about the articles we have read and the videos we have watched that show the hurtful reaction to these men by members of the community where they live. It is horrifying for us to see their pictures on a TV screen.

It is terrible to hear them spoken of as if they are not human. If they did not have a developmental disability, they would be living in the community without any support. The organizations that are providing services to these men know what they are doing, and they are providing the support each man needs to live successfully in the community.

We ask people who have made negative and hurtful statements to stop. These people have the right to live in their community like other citizens. We would also like to acknowledge the good work of the agencies that are providing the services and the staffing.

Cathy Loquercio - President, SANYS
Steve Holmes - Administrative Director, SANYS


When Government Fears the People, There is Liberty

Eagle and flag
Original Article

03/05/2014

By Robert Wolf

When the craftsman sets out to learn his trade, for example, woodworking, he spends a great deal of time learning about his craft. He must learn not only the tools to use, but also the proper types of wood to work with. He must be totally versed in all aspects of woodworking if he want to be considered a master of his trade. This is true of any field of endeavor, except for one, our public officials. For some reason many of our politicians feel that they will gain more popularity by pushing more laws through. They do this without any consideration to the constitutional requirements of the laws they propose. And some people working in our government enforcing those laws feel that they are above them.

The job of a politician is to uphold the Constitution’s of both the state they represent, and our federal government. They take an oath to do this, but how many of these politicians today realize that the primary reason for our Constitution is to protect INDIVIDUAL rights; not the majority’s rights, and not the government’s rights to exist. Our founding fathers recognized the possibility of the government’s growing in power to such a point that individual freedoms would be lost. That is why on the 4 March 1789.

They added the Bill of Rights to the Constitution guaranteeing individual freedoms to the people in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of the government’s powers. Today the people holding government offices rather elected or employed have shown a total disregard for those individual rights.


CANADA - Masseuse taking Toronto cop (Mandip Sandhu) convicted of sex assault to civil court

Mandip Sandhu
Mandip Sandhu
Original Article

03/04/2014

By MICHELE MANDEL

TORONTO - How the tables have turned on the once powerful Toronto cop who used his gun and his position of power to demand sex.

Thanks to her compelling testimony, the vulnerable masseuse forced to perform oral sex on Const. Mandip Sandhu saw him convicted and sentenced last year in criminal court. And now she is dragging him into civil court where she is suing him and the Toronto Police Service Board for more than $1 million.

Who’s wielding all the power now?

Sandhu, 37, was convicted last year of sexually assault after a judge rejected his ridiculous defence that he was the victim and the petite Chinese immigrant forced herself on him during his “inspection” of the North York spa where she worked in June 2010.

His undoing was his DNA — she had spit into a washcloth that was handed over for testing.

Sandhu was sentenced in June to 15 months in jail — an unusually harsh term for a police officer — and though free on bail pending his appeal, he can no longer count on that cushy police salary he had for three years while he was under suspension and awaiting trial.

As a convicted cop sentenced to a term of imprisonment, the Police Services Act allows him to be suspended without pay. And now his troubles have further increased with this civil lawsuit.

In her claim, his 46-year-old victim said she was happily married and the mother of a five-year-old daughter when Sandhu entered her workplace that morning, showed his badge, and demanded oral sex. “During the assault, (she) could feel Sandhu’s gun pressing against her head,” her lawsuit contends.

The trauma, shame and terror that followed the attack, she said, led to the break-up of her marriage and her decision to flee the province and leave her child behind.

She has lived and continues to live in a constant state of fear that Sandhu will exact revenge on her because she did not stay silent and she cooperated with the criminal process against him,” the lawsuit claims.

Unlike two recent sex assault victims of Dr. George Doodnaught who have criticized the automatic, court-ordered publication ban on their names, she clings to it.

(She) was and is deeply ashamed of what Sandhu did to her, and feels guilty and as though she was and is to blame and was and is unable to tell even close family members of friends what Sandhu did to her for fear of being disbelieved or shunned.”

In her lawsuit, she also blames the police services board for allowing Sandhu to work alone when he came into her workplace and for not having a rigorous inspection policy in place so officers “would not be tempted to abuse and exploit their privileged access to such establishments.”

The allegations in her claim have not been proven in court and no statement of defence has yet been filed. A spokesman for the Toronto Police board would not comment about an ongoing matter. Lawyer Elizabeth Grace said she has been unable to find and serve Sandhu.

It’s a tragic case of a police officer exploiting the authority of his badge for his own sexual gratification — and he was given that badge by the Toronto Police Services Board,” argues Grace. “We’re concerned that this isn’t an isolated case and there may be more victims out there and if so, I encourage them to come forward.”

In her lawsuit, the victim alleges her co-worker “recognized Sandhu as the man who had regularly attended at another North York spa where she had worked and where he sexually assaulted other estheticians. However, the other victims had been too afraid and ashamed to report Sandhu’s sexual assaults on them.”

When Sandhu left the spa, she said he warned her not to say anything. And the 11-year veteran likely assumed he was safe and that his victim’s cultural shame would preserve her silence.

It speaks to the vulnerable population that he may have been picking on, the kind of person unlikely to speak out, and that’s really concerning,” her lawyer alleged.

The irony is that Sandhu picked on the wrong woman. And no badge or gun can protect him now.

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