Category Archives: sex offenders

The runaway governor: truly scary justice “reforms”

I’m sorry, I have to say it. She’s freakin’ scary now. I think she’s lost it and I can almost picture her sitting in a darkened room, illuminated by frequent lightning, hair standing up, rubbing her hands together, eyes pointing in separate directions, cackling, laughing maniacally as she imagines these proposals.

The Governor, as part of her budget and state of the state speech yesterday, proposed these changes to the criminal justice system. Are you ready?

I will be submitting legislation to require a mandatory minimum sentence for Burglary in the Second Degree and to change Burglary in the First Degree to include burglary of an occupied dwelling, day or night.

I wonder if she reads the current statutes before making these proposals: “By Jove! I’ve got a brilliant idea! Let’s outlaw one man killing another!”

I would also like to put in place a three-strikes law for those convicted of three violent felony offenses.

And to satisfy those who thought mistakenly there was an “out” in the original proposal, I am removing the possibility of a case review after 30 years. Now it’s three strikes for violent felony convictions and you’re truly out.

There you go. “Original” three-strikes. Completely ineffective and counter productive. I’m also particularly tickled by the “to satisfy those…” comment. American Idol Governor, indeed.

I am also proposing legislation to significantly toughen our laws dealing with sex offenders.

All too often we hear or read about a predator attempting to entice a child online or about a sex offender failing to register as required.

One simple fix I am proposing is to bar offenders from legally changing their names to escape police attention or to avoid registration.

Again with this recidivism nonsense and this shows real ignorance on the topic. Yeah, we hear about MySpace predators because every single time it happens, there’s a media frenzy. Yet, 90-ish % of “predators” will be within the family. They don’t need myspace.

This name changing this is also odd. Why can’t they be allowed to change their name, as long as they register? To change your name, you have to get an order from Court, no? So if you’re on the sex offender registry, it should be pretty easy for someone to figure that out and make the change in the registry.

But I want to go further. I want to require offenders to report in person to police and to provide the name and address of their employers and the license plate number and description of their cars.

And they will also have a special imprint on their driver’s licenses.

Further than need be… This is scarlet letter territory we’re entering into here. Why should the sex offender have to provide the name of his employer? Do we want to further outcast these people? Look at my post from the other day, about the sex offender who can’t be located because he’s been kicked around like a football, or the sex offenders living under the bridge in Miami, one of whom has decided to disappear. Yeah, that’s public safety.

And in the name of public protection, I am calling for another significant change: I want all persons arrested for an A or B felony the most serious of criminal charges to provide DNA samples immediately upon arraignment.Those convicted of lesser felonies and certain misdemeanors must provide a DNA sample at conviction.

These samples will be processed to see if there are any matches related to unsolved crimes.

Incredibly, the law on the books only requires DNA samples to be taken at the end of the inmate’s sentence.

This is where one eye starts spinning uncontrollably, some cats enter the picture and fade to black.

This is just frightening. Absolutely frightening. Presumption of innocence? Them’s just fancy terms. Don’t mean nothing. You’re arrested so you’re guilty. Give up your damn DNA. Heck, I got a better idea. Why wait for people to be arrested. Let’s just have the police go to everyone’s homes. We can all stand in our yards in a line and the police can walk by, taking our DNA. You know, because innocent people don’t exist. Diogenes was right. There isn’t an honest man.

By the way, the statute calls for DNA to be collected after conviction. DOC can choose to collect that sample upon initial entry and they don’t always collect it prior to release.

She’s absolutely lost it and has no idea what to do and what not to do. Pandering is scary enough. This delusional law-making is scarier.

More from CTLP, CT News Junkie.

Disclaimer: This is my opinion. I don’t really think she looks like that in her home. That was my poor attempt at satire. Also, I don’t know what the public defender’s office’s official position would be. This is just mine.

The forever persecuted

A few days ago, I noticed a story in the Boston Globe about residents in a New Hampshire town who rejoiced after successfully getting a sex offender to leave their community. It was of particular interest to me because that sex offender was from Connecticut and the story said he would be returning here.

So it came as no surprise when I saw this report today. It says that he is on the move – perhaps with a one-way ticket to prison.

This is really stupid and I think the “biggest waste of law enforcement funds this week” nominee. The offender, Douglas Simmons, was in compliance with registration requirements while he lived in CT. Then he decided to move to NH. So what does he do? He notifies the police in New Hampshire when he gets there. Not good enough, say the police. He has to inform police in Connecticut as well, that he is moving out of state.

This seems pointless to me. Either he is living in the state and in compliance or not living in the state and therefore shouldn’t have to comply. Some law enforcement agency knew of his whereabouts at the mandated interval. What difference does it make that it was New Hampshire law enforcement?  The NH police contacted CT to say “hey, one of your guys moved here”. Apparently, they’re not to be trusted.

The statute has has violated is C.G.S 54-252, which provides in relevant part:

If any person who is subject to registration under this section changes such person’s address, such person shall, without undue delay, notify the Commissioner of Public Safety in writing of the new address and, if the new address is in another state, such person shall also register with an appropriate agency in that state, provided that state has a registration requirement for such offenders.

I want to know what undue delay means and what the delay was in this case. Either way, the prosecutor handling this case should really look at this and see whether this needs to be prosecuted. I don’t think it does.

Now, his current whereabouts are unknown, because, you know, he was kicked out of his last town. Do you blame him? This is a guy who committed a pretty ugly offense. He served 22 years in jail for it (day for day, it seems). Then he gets out and has to register for life. Which he does dutifully. Then he decides to move. So thinking logically, he notifies the town he moves into. They freak out and kick him out. He leaves and moves back to his home state. Now he’s wanted by the police and will have to go back to jail for some bs violation. I’d be tempted to give the State the finger at that point. Wouldn’t you?

Because she’s hot

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Jami Floyd over at Court TV calls the media and politicians out on why female sex offenders are not made into monsters: because they’re hot, because they’re women and because women like them were the objects of the fantasies of the men that now control our legislatures and media. She’s got a point.

Debra Lafave, the FL teacher who was spared prison time after having sex with a teen, is back in court facing a probation violation because she spoke to a 17 year old female co-worker. The first time around, her lawyer seemingly argued that she shouldn’t go to jail because she was too attractive. Something about meat and lions. WTF.

Sex offender homelessness: a growing problem

USA Today has two pieces covering the growing problem of sex offender homelessness due to strict residency restrictions and the real dangers posed by it.

Thousands of convicted sex offenders are reporting to police that they are homeless, raising concerns that their lack of a permanent address could make them difficult to track, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

Sex offenders, who are required to register with police and often barred by law from living near places where children gather, list addresses such as a tent, “near a bike path,” “behind a cemetery” or “woods behind Wal-Mart.”

Two-thirds of the states allow convicted sex offenders, including violent predators, to register as homeless or list a shelter or inexact location as long as they stay in touch with police.

At least a dozen states list hundreds of sex offenders without specific addresses. California registered 2,716 as “transient.” Washington state listed 564 as homeless, but the number is probably much higher, says Carolyn Sanchez of the Washington State Patrol.

Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maine and other states say the number of homeless sex offenders is rising. Landlords often won’t rent to them, and laws in dozens of states and hundreds of cities bar them from living near areas where kids play.

The primary cause of this homelessness is their inability to secure any sort of housing in cities and towns due to excessively strict residency restrictions. This creates public safety problems on two fronts: It makes it difficult for law enforcement to keep track of them and it increases the sense of isolation, frustration and loneliness felt by the homeless.

Residency restrictions in their current form have no visible impact on the reduction of crime and in fact, may well end up being counterproductive.

Sex Crimes also has this covered.

High-risk sex offenders have nowhere to go

That some sex offenders in this State have no facility or residential program to go to after release is not news (especially since David Pollitt’s saga), but now we are seeing more examples of this problem (or maybe it is just being covered more by the MSM).

Ransome Lee Moody is a three-time convicted rapist who has finished his prison sentence but is still so dangerous and calculating, officials testified Thursday, that he defies all conventional sex-offender treatment and no facility — in this state or beyond — will take him.

Finding a permanent place for the 50-year-old Moody, who has served a total of 30 years in prison, is proving to be “an impossibility” even though a slew of state agencies are working on the problem, Superior Court Judge Robert L. Holzberg said Thursday at a hearing on the conditions of Moody’s probation.

Moody is not alone. At any given time, there are 50 to 75 sex offenders who have nowhere to go. They are staying in the shelters, Chief Probation Officer Dorian Santoemma explained, because they may be too risky for inpatient sex-offender treatment, or there’s no room in the programs, or there’s no living arrangement with relatives that would be appropriate.

There are only three shelters in the State that will accept them: one each in Hartford, New Haven and New Britain.

Holzberg rescinded a requirement that Moody be placed in an inpatient program because none could be found. The judge said that without “the good graces” of Warren Kimbro, the studious 73-year-old ex-Black Panther who runs Project More in New Haven, there would not even be a temporary solution to Moody’s placement problem.

“If we won’t take him, who will?” said Kimbro, whose programs help ex-convicts return to society. “Regardless of their offense, once they’re released, if we don’t assist them with re-integration, then we can expect them to re-offend.”

He can’t stay there forever. This will need to be addressed soon. I just hope we don’t go the civil commitment way.

Lawmaker pondering sensible reform to sex offender registry

Finally some good news on the criminal justice reform front. Mike Lawlor, co-chair of the Judiciary Committee, is also on the State Risk Assessment Board, which is charged with – you guessed it – assessing the risk of the state’s registered sex offenders. Lawlor wants to streamline the registry so as to provide more relevant information on those who have the highest risk of re-offending.

Lawlor sees room for improvement. He wants the Connecticut registry to attach “risk levels” to each offender to help people understand who poses a danger and who, likely, does not. It’s an idea modeled on states like Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado, where “actuarial” risk assessment—a social science-based prediction method—is used to analyze a sex offender’s likelihood of re-offending, and where only those determined to have a high risk are placed on the internet. Based on the experience of the states that have done this, high risk offenders typically make up only 10 to 20 percent of the sex offender population.

In 2006, Lawlor pushed for the formation of the Risk Assessment Board, charged by the legislature with analyzing the state’s more than 4,600 registered sex offenders and stamping each as high, medium or low risk. The board is made up of high-level public officials—the commissioner of Correction, the commissioner of Mental Health and Addiction Services, the commissioner of Public Safety, the chief state’s attorney, the chief public defender, the chairperson of the Board of Pardons and Paroles—as well as a governor-appointed victim’s advocate, forensic psychiatrist, a risk assessment expert and members of the relevant legislative committees, including Lawlor.

The article actually does a good job of explaining the risk assessment methods and compares it to the traditional subjective approach employed by therapists.

Further, people may finally be catching on to the real problems of registries and the dangers it poses:

It’s counterintuitive, acknowledges the study’s author, David D’Amora, a licensed therapist who heads the Center for the Treatment of Problem Sexual Behavior and sits on the Risk Assessment Board. But the reason for the possible increase [in recidivism], he says, is fairly straightforward: Registered sex offenders have a harder time getting jobs and finding housing, and people without jobs or housing are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol and to re-offend. When your life’s a mess, the theory goes, it’s harder to keep your behavior in check. “When you over-respond to the lowest risk people,” says D’Amora, “you end up making them more dangerous.

“With the best of intentions we are putting in place things that are decreasing the ability for people to have appropriate jobs and appropriate living,” says D’Amora, “and those are two of the things that are most important to decrease recidivism. The unintended consequence is making things more dangerous.”

Of course, there’s a long way to go and with the current political climate, who knows if this will ever come to fruition. I hope it does. If not, can they at least legislate that condoms be made available in jails?

Thoughts on the Genarlow Wilson decision

In the end, the Georgia Supreme Court achieved the correct result. In a 4-3 opinion [pdf - make sure you read both the majority and the dissent] issued today, it found Genarlow Wilson’s 10 year sentence to be “cruel and unusual punishment” for the crime of which he was convicted. However, I’m not sure this majority opinion is that sound or has any precedential value whatsoever.

Specifically, I’m not sure that its distinguishment of Widner [pdf] is appropriate. The Court says that the main reason Widner is distinguishable (in Widner, the defendant was 18 and the “victim” was a few days shy of 14) is because the legislative change that altered the punishment for Genarlow did not do so for Widner.

What troubles me about this is that the Court seems to take its cues on the “evolving standard of decency” from legislative acts. While it expressly disavows that contention, nothing else in the opinion seems to support that notion. The court is essentially saying that a 10 year sentence for consensual oral sex between a 17 year old and a 15 year old is “cruel and unusual”, but it is okay if the actors are 18 and 14, because the legislature didn’t want to change that.

The Court doesn’t provide much by way of support for the evolving standard argument. It cites statutes from sister states that don’t punish the same conduct to this extent, but as far as I could see, there was no discussion of when those statutes were enacted or how long they were in effect. It then discusses Georgia statutes for seemingly far worse crimes but with far less punishment, but I don’t think it’s very instructive to compare manslaughter to consensual oral sex. Could that argument then be applied to larcenies as well?

The Court also dismisses that dissent’s contention that this opinion would have implications for several other defendants. It emphasizes that this is a very limited factual scenario they are dealing with.

It seems to me to be a very result oriented decision (and they got the result right), but whether it would stand up to SCOTUS scrutiny is beyond me. Thankfully, the AG seems willing to accept the Court’s decision and doesn’t seem like he will appeal.

Other blog coverage: from SL & P (here and here) and MUCH more here (and in the comments), Volokh, ConcurringOpinions and OfCounsel. My prior coverage :