Saturday, January 31, 2015

The California ASSembly looks to circumvent Court decisions ruling further restrictions violate state law

His name is Bill,
And he sponsored a Bill,
and its gonna stink up Capitol Hill....

This grinning idiot is Bill Brough, and he's the sponsor of an upcoming bill that will allow cities and counties throughout California to adopt restrictions beyond the already asinine restrictions imposed by the state. 

This bill is intended to circumvent court rulings that found imposing extra restrictions on Registered Citizens violated state law. This guy puts the ASS in ASSembly. 

Feel like contacting Bill? Here's how:

CAPITOL OFFICE
State Capitol: Room 2174
Mailing Address: State Capitol P.O. Box 942849
Sacramento, CA 94249
Phone: 916-319-2073

DISTRICT OFFICE
Orange County Office:
29122 Rancho Viejo Road, Suite 111,
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
Phone: (949) 347-7301
Fax: (949) 347-7302


Assembly Bill Would Authorize Cities, Counties to Adopt Presence Restrictions
Posted On 30 Jan, 2015 - 7 Comments

Assemblyman William P. Brough introduced Assembly Bill 201 on January 29 that, if passed, would authorize cities and counties to pass laws that restrict where registered citizens may be present. Brough is a Republican member of the Assembly from Oange County.

“This bill attempts to reverse decisions of the California Court of Appeal and Supreme Court made in 2014,” stated California RSOL President Janice Bellucci. “The bill would also reverse the positive results of lawsuits filed last year in federal district courts.”

During 2014, a total of 26 lawsuits were filed challenging city and county laws that prohibited registered citizens from visiting public places, including libraries, parks and museums, as well as privately owned places, including movie theaters, bowling alleys and fast food restaurants. Of that total, more than 20 lawsuits have been settled and an additional 51 cities and/or cities have voluntarily repealed their ordinances.

In the past, there have been two failed attempts to provide the same authorization to cities and counties. “We must remain vigilant to keep the victories we have won. California RSOL will fight this bill and all bills that further erode the civil rights of registered citizens and members of their families,” stated California RSOL Vice President Chance Oberstein.


You can read the full text of the bill BY CLICKING HERE.

AB 201, as introduced, Brough. Registered sex offenders: local ordinances.

Existing law, the Sex Offender Registration Act, requires persons convicted of specified sex offenses to register with local authorities for life while residing, located, attending school, or working in California. Existing law, as adopted by the voters by the passage of Proposition 83 at the November 7, 2006, statewide general election, prohibits a person who is required to register as a sex offender from living in specified places, including within 2,000 feet of a school or park where children regularly gather. Existing law authorizes municipal jurisdictions to enact local ordinances that further restrict the residency of the registered sex offender. Existing law makes it a misdemeanor for a person who is on parole for specified sex offenses to enter any park where children regularly gather without express permission from the person’s parole agent.

This bill would state that a local agency is not preempted by state law from enacting and enforcing an ordinance that restricts a registered sex offender from residing or being present at certain locations within the local agency’s jurisdiction. The bill would authorize a local agency to adopt ordinances, rules, or regulations that are more restrictive than state law relating to a registered sex offender’s ability to reside or be present at certain locations within the local agency’s jurisdiction.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

If at first you don't succeed, find a better internet meme to pimp your bad law

US Representative Chris Smith has been trying to PIMP this so-called "International Megan's Law idea for many years-- in fact, it has reared its ugly head many times on this very awards show over the years (International Megan's Law was voted dumbest law of 2010, and Chris Smith was a nominee for the 2013 awards but was not in the finals).

Well, Chris Smith has found a new way to PROSTITUTE his stupid bill. "Human Trafficking" (or "sex trafficking" or simply "trafficking") is becoming the new buzzword, and it is quickly becoming the new wave of Predator Panic. So now Chris is SOLICITING support for International Megan's Law by using hashtags. Really? A stinking hashtag? (It is a pound sign or a tic-tac-toe board, by the way).

Well I have a hashtag for you, Chris. #KissMyAss

http://www.nj.com/mercer/index.ssf/2015/01/house_passes_international_megans_law_notifies_for.html

House passes International Megan's Law, notifies foreign countries of traveling sex offenders
By Mike Davis
on January 27, 2015 at 6:24 PM, updated January 27, 2015 at 8:07 PM

HAMILTON — A version of the sex offender registration and notification laws rooted in the murder of a 7-year-old Hamilton girl could soon be implemented across global borders.

The House on Monday night passed “International Megan’s Law,” a bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-4th Dist.) that would “take away the secrecy” and notify law enforcement agencies in other countries about the travel plans of convicted and registered sex offenders.

About 4,500 U.S. passports were issued to registered sex offenders in 2008, according to the Government Accountability Office, which Smith said was a sign that many sex offenders look to prey on victims in foreign countries.

“It’s all about very good vigilance,” Smith said in an interview on Tuesday. “It’s secrecy that enables all of this. Secrecy is how these people exploit and, unfortunately, we’re seeing a growing amount of sex tourism. They hop on planes and go to places for a week or two and abuse little children.”

The bill strengthens “Operation Angel Watch,” an arm of the Department of Homeland Security, and authorizes it to create a communications strategy with other countries.

Smith said the bill urges the president to reach bilateral agreements and memorandums of understanding with other nations on training and procedures upon notification, including the denial of a visa.

The new “Angel Watch Center” would focus on sex offenders who are likely to commit another sex crime, usually those ranked as second- or third-tier offenders, Smith said.

“If you do a data dump, nothing gets done. You want people to say, ‘he’s not coming in,’” Smith said. “We’re talking about people who have a likely propensity to recommit these crimes.”

Smith began trying to apply Megan’s Law across international boundaries in 2008 he met with a group from Thailand on human trafficking, an issue he has tried to combat throughout his time in Congress.

“If we told you a convicted pedophile was coming to Bangkok, what would you do,” Smith asked them.

“We wouldn't let them in,” the Thailand activists responded, and Smith realized that such a framework needed to exist.

“The idea behind this is to get Megan’s Law stirred up in countries around the world,” Smith said. “A few have something close to it, but most do not.

"Pedophiles from the U.S. can travel to those countries and pedophiles from those countries can come to the U.S. and abuse our children,” he said.

The bill is modeled after Megan’s Law legislation already in place throughout the United States, which requires convicted sex offenders to register in national and statewide databases and notify law enforcement of any changes in residence or employment.

The laws were passed in reaction to the 1994 rape and murder of 7-year-old Megan Nicole Kanka of Hamilton, who was lured in by neighbor Jesse Timmendequas, a twice-convicted sex offender whose past the Kankas were unaware of. Timmendequas was convicted in 1997 and sentenced to death, but his sentence was commuted to life in prison without the possibility of parole after the state abolished the death penalty in 2007. 

New Jersey was the first state to pass Megan’s Law, which requires convicted sex offenders to notify law enforcement agencies of any change in residence or employment upon their release from prison.

Two years later, former President Bill Clinton signed into law the first nationwide Megan’s Law, an amendment to the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act.

“Had the Kankas known the guy living across the street, who had been to their home many times, there would have been a different outcome,” Smith said.

Maureen and Richard Kanka, a Hamilton school board member, were on hand when Smith introduced an earlier version of the International Megan’s Law later that year but the Senate never voted on the bill.

The House also passed the bill last year but the Senate did not vote on it.

“This could be exploited by all kinds of people. We want to make sure we keep out of this country those who would exploit it,” Smith said.

International Megan's Law was one of Smith's two human trafficking bills passed by the House on Monday. The other bill, the Human Trafficking Prioritization Act, would ramp up American anti-trafficking efforts by creating the "Bureau to Combat Trafficking in Persons" within the State Department.

By turning the State Department's human trafficking office into a bureau, it ensures an equal voice in any discussions — a direct line to the Secretary of State, instead of going through intermediaries.

"They get to be at the table and fight inside those important conferences," Smith said. "They have diplomatic capabilities within the State Department to fight for an honest appraisal of a country's human trafficking network as well as what the penalties should be for egregious behavior."

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Oklahoma's "separate but equal" registrant nursing home is about to get even less equal

I want to oppose the idea that this is a prison. It’s not. It’s a LTC facility that is providing what I refer to as ‘appropriate resident care for a specific population.’ This population has needs that are not being met in our traditional LTC facilities. What we have uncovered is that these people are much younger, predominately male, so there are some obvious differences with traditional residents. Are therapy and activities being provided to these offenders to keep them engaged to deal with their psycho-social needs? Oftentimes what we find is that these sex offenders end up in that so called ‘secure lock down unit.’ But what this is supposed to be is a special, secure LTC facility. -- Wes Bledsoe of "A Perfect Cause," an organization pushing segregation of sex offenders in nursing homes across the US, in response to the question, "Is there the potential for this facility to resemble a prison with people being segregated from each other and, figuratively, on 'lock down'?"

Oklahoma has created already created a disgusting and disturbing precedent when it became the first state in the US to create a law for a "separate but equal" nursing home facility for elderly and disabled registrants. Oklahoma is about to take this innovative idea to new depths. 

There is a reason I added the quote from Wes Bledsoe. This clown is the reason for the Oklahoma segregation law in the first place. He does not want us to think this segregation facility is a prison. Well, it will be hard for Bledsoe to continue to say such asinine things once Oklahoma passes SB 578, because the Oklahoma legislature seeks to turn over the responsibility for running the segregationist nursing home to the Department of Corrections. 

There is no way even a moron like Bledsoe can read this bill and NOT conclude this facility will be a prison. What else could you call a facility run by the DOC and includes prison inmates? It makes me wonder if Oklahoma will hire the same people that built the Minnesota facility with doors that lock during fire alarms?

AS INTRODUCED 

An Act relating to sex offenders; amending 63 O.S. 2011, Section 1-849, which relates to long-term care facility for sex offenders; allowing the Department of Corrections to initiate certain proposals; providing definitions; and providing an effective date. 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA: 

SECTION 1. AMENDATORY 63 O.S. 2011, Section 1-849, is amended to read as follows: 

Section 1-849. A. The State Department of Health Department of Corrections shall initiate a request for proposal for the operation of a stand-alone long-term care facility for: 

1. sex Sex offenders who are assigned a numeric risk level of II or III as provided in the Sex Offenders Registration Act; or 

2. Any incarcerated offender deemed by the Department of Corrections to be either critically or terminally ill.

The request for proposal shall set forth surveillance and security specifications providing for heightened security of residents to protect the public and residents of the facility. 

B. The State Board of Health Department of Corrections shall promulgate rules and establish procedures necessary to implement the request for proposal and the operation of the stand-alone long-term care facility for: 

1. Level II and III sex offenders; or 

2. Any offender deemed by the Department of Corrections to be either critically or terminally ill. 

C. For the purpose of this section: 

1. Critically ill means: 
a. being unable to perform at least two (2) activities of daily living, such as eating, toileting, moving from one place to another, bathing, dressing or being able to self-medicate; 
b. requiring substantial supervision for protection from threats to health and safety because of a severe cognitive impairment. 

2. Terminally ill means having a condition that reasonably may be expected to result in death within twenty-four (24) months. 

3. Long-term care facility means a health care facility, other than a general acute or specialty hospital, constructed, licensed, and operated to provide patient living accommodations, twenty-four (24) hour staff availability, and at least two of the following patient services: 

a) selection of patient care services, under the  direction and supervision of a registered nurse, ranging from continuous medical, skilled nursing, psychological, or other professional therapies to intermittent health-related or paraprofessional care services; and 

b) a structured supportive living environment that provides support or assistance with individual activities of daily living. 

SECTION 2. This act shall become effective November 1, 2015. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Despite being cleared of wrongdoing, NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand still calls an innocent man a "rapist."

"I will accept a lie this big so long as it gets me re-elected."
It is no secret that in our culture, an accusation often equals a conviction, at least in the court of public opinion. That is a fact regardless of whether or not his accuser drags a filthy mattress around campus, looking for publicity and granting media interviews while claiming the media is "triggering rape memories." Of course, there were never any charges filed, and in spite of our tendency to condemn those accused of rape without the benefit of the doubt, a man was found not guilty by a college ethics committee, which has a lower burden of proof. But even that isn't enough to satisfy NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

Hell, I'll go so far as to say I think Emma's story is so full of shit, she should have opted to drag a porta-potty around Columbia University instead of a mattress. 

Gillibrand sticks by a story proven to be lacking in fact, and takes it two steps further. First, she writes an article for the Huffington Post referring to the exonerated man as a "rapist" (while also using the opportunity to promote a "tough on sex crime" bill:


Last night at the President's State of the Union Address, I was honored to invite as my guest Emma Sulkowicz, the Columbia University student who has inspired us all with her performance art piece "Carry That Weight" in which she carries her mattress everywhere she goes to symbolize the burden she carries every single day as long as her rapist is still on campus...

In July of last year, I stood alongside survivors, advocates and a bipartisan coalition of senate supporters including Senators McCaskill, Collins, Blumenthal, Grassley, Warner, Heller, Rubio and Ayotte to announce the introduction of the Campus Accountability and Safety Act. Our bill, which will be re-introduced this Congress, will compel colleges and universities across the country to finally face this problem head-on, aggressively, with the goal of making safe campuses for America's students a reality.

Under the Campus Accountability And Safety Act:

- underreporting will have stiff fines with real teeth;
- students will have a place to confidentially access the services they deserve; 
- survivors will work with advisors who have proper training; and 
- high school students across the country will have a new criterion to consider as they sit with their families and decide where to attend college.

Gillibrand invited the false accuser to the State of the Union address, dirty mattress and all. On the upside, when the President starts boring the audience to sleep, Emma didn't have to sleep in a chair, she brought her own mattress. (Of course, seeing as how Barack Hussein Obama is also full of shit, my porta-potty idea would have benefited both the President AND Emma whats-her-face at the State of the Union.) 

At the least, Gillibrand should have used the word "alleged." After all, the story has not been proven to be true, either by the police or by Columbia University; in fact, they found the opposite. But don't confuse her with the facts, she's made up her mind. 


Man found not responsible for rape blasts Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand for 'harassment campaign'

BY ASHE SCHOW | JANUARY 21, 2015 | 12:53 PM 
Paul Nungesser was found “not responsible” for sexually assaulting another student at Columbia University. The student who accused him, Emma Sulkowicz, has since began carrying a mattress around the university as part of an art project to protest a finding she claims was unfair.

Sulkowicz’s activism earned her an invitation to President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. When Nungesser heard of the invitation, he blasted the senator for rewarding Sulkowicz’s attacks against him.

“I am shocked to learn that Sen. Gillibrand is actively supporting Ms. Sulkowicz’s defamation campaign against me by providing her with a public forum in which to broadcast her grave allegation,” Nungesser told New York Magazine on Tuesday. “By doing so, Sen. Gillibrand is participating in a harassment campaign against someone, who, for good reason, has been found innocent by all investigating bodies.”

Nungesser reminded people that the university, after a seven-month long investigation, found him not responsible in 2013 — even in the current atmosphere where colleges are encouraged to find students guilty to appease political interests. Nungesser also pointed out that he cooperated with police after Sulkowicz filed a report (after the university found him not responsible) and that prosecutors declined to pursue the case.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Virginia wants to publicly shame Registrants (and their children) who want to get involved with their kids' educations

Some of you might find this hard to believe, but some people on the registry -- wait for it-- have kids! I know, it is a shocker, right? Even more amazing is the fact that registered people actually want to do the typical parenting thing. 

What makes this bill unique isn't a ban on allowing registered persons on school grounds, but the process by which a registered person can petition to be exempt from the law to see his own kid. This is the actual text of the bill as it relates to this petition:

C. Every adult who is prohibited from entering upon school or child day center property pursuant to subsection A may after notice to the attorney for the Commonwealth and either (i) the proprietor of the child day center, (ii) the superintendent of public instruction and the chairman of the school board of the school division in which the school is located, or (iii) the chief administrator of the school if such school is not a public school, petition the circuit court in the county or city where the school or child day center is located for permission to enter such property. The court shall direct that the petitioner shall cause notice of the time and place of the hearing on his petition to be published once a week for two successive weeks in a newspaper meeting the requirements of § 8.01-324. The court may permit any person who attends the hearing to testify regarding the petition. For good cause shown, the court may issue an order permitting the petitioner to enter and be present on such property, subject to whatever restrictions of area, reasons for being present, or time limits the court deems appropriate.

[You can find the full text of the bill HERE]

What does this mean? The registered person wanting to be involved with his kid's school life has to petition the court, and that hearing will be released to the media. It is nothing but a form of humiliation for the registrant AND his kid. That is Shiitake-worthy. 

I'll allow the ACLU to finish critiquing this bill: 


ACLU questions new sex offender bill

By Stephanie Harris
Published: January 20, 2015, 11:25 pm  Updated: January 20, 2015, 11:26 pm
13Click to share on Twitter Click to share on Google+ 7Share on Facebook Click to share on Pinterest

VIRGINIA (WAVY) — Their faces and address are already public, now one Virginia lawmaker wants registered sex offenders to face public hearings before going inside schools.

To have access to Virginia public schools, House Bill 1366 would require violent sex offenders to pay for a newspaper ad publicizing a personal court hearing. It would run once a week for two weeks. Then anyone could attend the hearing and testify against them.

The bills author, Delegate Jeff Campbell, says it’s about safety, but the ACLU says it crosses the line of civil rights.

“The public hearing is simply an invitation for an angry mob to gather at a school and get in the way of a parent’s right to be involved in the education of his or her child,” said ACLU of Virginia’s Executive Director Claire Gastanaga.

Gastanaga said there is no real proof that registries and restrictions like this keep kids safer. He said the most direct impact of the bill would be on parents with kids in school who want to go and meet with the kids’ teachers.

Delegate Campbell disagrees: “I disagree totally, what it does is it gives parents of the other children a say in who is around their children.”

The ACLU is also concerned that paying for the ad would be hardship. 10 On Your Side checked with the Virginian-Pilot. They could not quote us on an ad without exact wording, but said it costs $8.11 per line, per day.

That is an acceptable amount, according to Delegate Campbell: “The public’s right to know who is around their children and to have a say in whether they agree in that or not trumps that individual’s right to free access to the school,” he said.

Currently, sex offenders must inform school superintendents before they go inside a Virginia school.

Delegate Campbell said there was an incident last year in Wise County where a parent did that and got permission to attend sporting events, but then started showing up to school at other times. Parents got upset and that is the reason for his bill.

A subcommittee unanimously passed the bill on Monday, but there is no set date yet for it to go before the full committee.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Alderman Michael R. Zalewski is Chicago's door-to-door snake oil salesman

If I opened the door and saw this grinning idiot at my door, I'd slam the door and cal the cops. He just looks like the stereotypical shady salesman, all the way down to his cheap suit. It isn't often you see politicians going door-to-door but this guy is, so it makes me wonder what he's hiding. 

By the way, you can always e-mail Alderman Michael R. Zalewski at mzalewski@cityofchicago.org with any concerns you may have.


LIBRARY, POLITICS
Ald. Zalewski working with community to prohibit sex offenders from libraries
January 15, 2015 • 15 Comments

Ald Zalewski Library Sex Offenders

Alderman Michael R. Zalewski (23) is sponsoring a new city ordinance to ban convicted sex offenders from public libraries while children are present, and has gathered 2,000 names from 23rd Ward residents in support of this measure. “Criminals who attempt to prey on our kids will not be tolerated,” Alderman Zalewski said. “As a father and grandfather, my commitment to public safety is stronger than ever, and I want to thank so many community members for joining me in support of this new public safety proposal to help keep our children safe where they learn and study.”

Zalewski will continue gathering support on this issue over the next few weeks, before it comes up for a vote. He encourages community members to add their name to his petition to ban sexual predators from public libraries by calling his office at 773-575-3545.

Pictured: Zalewski with petition sheets containing names of supporters of his new public safety proposal.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

So, can we somehow blame the stupidity of Elma High School students on Common Core?

First off, I feel whoever leaked this info should be arrested (Level 1 registrant info is NOT publicly disclosed in Washington state; and I don't buy the story this info was "accidentally" leaked. I'm pretty sure the cops leaked this info on purpose). Second, it seems High School students are getting dumber. Whether it is "No Child Left Behind" or "Common Core," the USA continues to breed a new generation of ignorant sheeple dependant on Big Brother to "keep me safe." Safe from what? Apparently, from themselves, judging by this story.



http://www.king5.com/story/news/local/2015/01/16/elma-sex-offender-protest-grays/21892675/


ELMA, Wash. -- Elma High School students walked out of class Friday after learning a classmate was a convicted sex offender.

The group of nearly 30 students first spoke with the district's superintendent before demonstrating on Elma's Main Street.

"It scares us to think that we're going to school with a sex offender," said student Donyell Eikelman.

The students and several parents were upset to learn a 17-year-old part-time Elma High School student pleaded guilty to two rape of a child charges in December.

Prosecutors said he had sexual contact with two kids under the age of ten. He had no prior criminal history.

Instead of being sent to juvenile detention, he was sentenced to two years probation and sex offender treatment.

A Grays Harbor County judge also ordered the teen to go to school.

Elma Superintendent Howard King said since the teen was not considered a high risk to offend, the district has to allow him to attend class.

The teen is considered a Level 1 sex offender, the least dangerous level.

Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders have their information posted online informing community members where they live and some details about their crime.

A Grays Harbor Sheriff's spokesperson said the teen's information was accidentally posted as if he was a sex offender who posed a danger to the community.

That's how many at the school learned about the student's crime.

Monday, January 19, 2015

When a dream becomes a nightmare: Dream Foundation revokes dream trip for Vet who is also Registered Citizen

There are a number of organizations that make "dreams" for dying souls, the "Make a Wish Foundation" being the most famous. There is another, called the Dream Foundation, that does the same, and they apparently they started a program for dying veterans. The Dayton Daily News ran the story of one such vet, who asked for a trip to the Grand Canyon with his family. However, after the story aired, a few nosy Nellies called the Foundation and whined the vet was on the public registry, so the Dream Foundation took it back. 


Dream trip revoked for sex offender with cancer

By Katherine Wright
Staff Writer

A dream trip to the Grand Canyon has been revoked for a local terminally ill veteran after the dream-granting organization discovered that he was a convicted sex offender.
******* , 62, of Dayton, received a free vacation from the Dream Foundation, a national wish-granting organization for adults with life-threatening illnesses. ******* and his brother, ****, have terminal cancer. Their three siblings were to accompany them on the trip.
The foundation decided to revoke ******’s trip. ****** was convicted of two counts of ***** in Moraine in ****, according to court records.
“After we announced the trip, we received a series of phone calls from the Dayton community to ask us if we were aware that this person” was a sex offender, said Tristan Layton of the Dream Foundation. “We were not. It was a very, very difficult decision to make. But we listened to the feedback and respected the families of these victims, and we made the decision to revoke ****'s trip.”
The organization serves 2500 dreams a year from its small Santa Barbara, Calif., office. This is the first time something like this has happened in 20 years, Layton said.
*****’s brother, Roger, and the rest of the family can still take the trip, he said.
“We hope that the rest of the family take the trip. That is up to them,” he said.
The Montgomery County Veterans Service Commission, which had partnered with the Dream Foundation to deliver the trip packet to the *****, had nothing to do with the decision, said Montgomery County spokeswoman Cathy Petersen.

A number of Registry Reformists emailed (or called, as I did) and they all received a canned, pre-written response. (right-click and select view picture in a separate tab to enlarge it)



The Dream Foundation is a fraud, and they should have their 501(c)3 status revoked. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Fool Bloom: How a U-Mass Professor compares "Sexual Predators" to members of ISIS

Mia is in FOOL bloom. She shows us why you can't spell DUMBASS without UMASS.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/heres-what-isis-recruiters-and-sexual-predators-have-in-common/ar-AA8aTPh

Here's what ISIS recruiters and sexual predators have in common
Carol Hills, PRI's The World
Jan. 15, 2015

In every violent attack by homegrown extremists in places like Paris, London, Madrid or Boston, there's a chain of survivors: The mother who didn't understand her son or daughter had met extremists online; the wife who thought her husband was just taking the day off; the sister who realized she had never met her brother's new friends.

And those tranformations can be subtle, taking place over months and eluding relatives along the way. 

Mia Bloom of the University of Massachusetts says groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda go after young women in the West by using other young women as online recruiters. The tactics they use are similar to that of an online sexual predator: establishing a rapport and building trust.  

"It's another woman. She's cool. She's just a few years older. And so this is how they will initially approach," Bloom says. It's an attempt to dupe unsuspecting young women in places like the United Kingdom, France and United States into joining. But it begs another question: Are the young women who end up being recruited victims or terrorist masterminds?

Some countries like Britain are arresting those who return from Syria and sentencing them to prison, even when their families cooperate with authorities. Bloom believes that could discourage families from working with police to bring their kids back home.

"In the same way that we have former gang members talking to high school students to prevent them from entering gangs, we may be missing out on an invaluable resource to have these girls speak to other young women not to get involved," she says.

Aqsa Mahmood is a case in point. The 20-year-old from Glasgow traveled to Syria in 2013 and married an ISIS fighter. She then starting promoting terrorism back home via Twitter. Bloom says Mahmood and others try to recruit others by selling an idealized version of what life will be like in Syria.

"She'll be online extolling the virtues of living in the Caliphate and how wonderful it is to have this sisterhood, especially if you are the second or third wife," Bloom says.

Some of the other tactics used to recruit young men and women to ISIS and al-Qaeda resemble those used by cults. Things like "love bombing," an attempt to influence a person by lavish demonstrations of attention and affection, or dangling some sort of prize in front of front of potential recruits in exchange for an agreement. 

And the people drawn to both terror groups and cults tend to be seeking something missing from their lives. "They're not necessarily going to be damaged individuals," Bloom says. "But I do think that the terrorist organizations do prey upon a certain kind of individual, especially converts to Islam who, because they converted, tend to overcompensate."

Sometimes that compensation, especially for Western recruits, is for a lack of success in life. "They are tired of being objects of history and want to be agents of history," Bloom says. "Being in the caliphate is a way of being someone important. You're making a difference — even though it's a terrible difference."


Friday, January 16, 2015

Texas District Judge Michael Seiler abused his position for years, and only now is he "coming under fire"

How this judge remains on the bench is beyond me. He's obviously biased and has been reprimanded numerous times. Yet, this judge is still allowed to sit on the bench.

http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Judge-in-controversial-sex-offender-program-under-5986273.php

Judge in controversial sex offender program under fire
Critics say Montgomery County jurist's version of Texas justice crosses the line

By Anita Hassan and Mike WardDecember 30, 2014 Updated: December 31, 2014 6:43pm

CONROE - Sixteen times in the past four months, defense attorneys have petitioned to have him removed from hearing cases because of perceived bias. Eight times he has gotten the boot. Seven times in six years, appeals courts have found he abused his discretion in rulings.

But state District Judge Michael Seiler, who campaigned as "a prosecutor to judge the predators," remains the chief enforcer in Texas' troubled civil-commitment program, a treatment program designed to keep dangerous sex predators off the streets and from which no one has ever graduated.

Now, the jurist who has publicly described the offenders who face him in court as "psychopaths" and once suggested treating sex offenders with castration from the neck up, has become a flashpoint for criticism over whether his version of Texas justice has crossed the line.

Some attorneys and legislative leaders are suggesting that Seiler should be stripped of his role as sole arbiter of the sex-offender cases and are calling for sweeping reforms that could redefine the entire program.

"The statute needs to be changed so that all the cases do not happen in Montgomery County," said Barbara Corley, who retired last month from the State Counsel for Offenders, the state-funded office that represents convicts in court, where she once supervised civil-commitment hearings. "Everything shouldn't be concentrated in one judge."

Seiler refused repeated requests to explain his position. A court aide said he would not discuss his courtroom business.

For a program already facing state audits and investigations over contract irregularities and operational mistakes, the controversy over how Seiler dispenses justice in his Montgomery County courtroom has become the newest legal challenge amid numerous pending federal lawsuits that are questioning its constitutionality.

Key issues include why is it officially deemed an "outpatient" program, when all of the offenders in it are confined in jails and halfway houses, and whether officials have systematically sent offenders back to prison for minor violations of rules as a way to ensure that no one ever graduates...

Program started in 1999

Texas' civil-commitment program was created in 1999 as a way to keep sexually violent predators in state custody and was part of a national movement designed to prevent new victims.

In order to be committed, an offender must have committed at least two violent offenses and be deemed to have a "behavioral abnormality."

But because the offenders had already served their prison sentences and paid their debt to society, civil-commitment programs nationally have faced continuing legal challenges over whether states can deny those offenders their freedom.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the programs are constitutional because they serve as treatment programs.

Since he was appointed to the court in 2008 by Gov. Rick Perry, Seiler, a former Montgomery County assistant district attorney, has signed more than 200 civil-commitment orders and holds about 50 new trials a year, records show. Under a state law approved in 2007, Seiler's is essentially the only court in Texas designated to officiate over the civil-commitment cases.

In all, more than 360 men are currently in the program, more than half of them in prison or jail for violating the treatment-program rules.

In addition to signing the original commitment orders, Seiler also ultimately decides who gets out of the program. In addition he presides over trials that determine who goes back to prison for violating program rules.

Texas is the only state in the nation to make those violations - which range from yelling, to being late for appointments and not taking medication - a felony crime.

Facing the jury

In a mid-November trial, Andre Vittroni Johnson, who was nearing the end of his 24-year sentence in prison for raping four women in Houston, sat in Seiler's Conroe courtroom as a jury considered whether he should be placed in the civil-commitment program.

He had already spent more than half of his life behind bars.

State prosecutors argued that he posed a continuing danger to society, and was likely to re-offend. As in all civil-commitment cases, Johnson, 40, had been brought to court by the state's Special Prosecutions Unit that handles prison crimes after he was screened for inclusion into the program by a so-called MDT - short for Multi-Disciplinary Team - made up of prison officials, state police and treatment professionals, among others.

Johnson's attorneys disputed their determination, offering the testimony of an expert witness who insisted he posed no continuing threat.

As that testimony began, Seiler leaned back in his large, leather chair and swiveled 180 degrees to the left, facing the jury with his eyes closed. Johnson's sister, Nicoya Waits of Houston, watched the crucial testimony that would determine whether her brother would ever see freedom again.

By the end of the day, the jury had decided that Johnson was a sexually violent predator. Seiler ordered him into civil commitment.

While higher courts have repeatedly upheld the legality of civil commitments, defense attorneys complain that Seiler's actions in and out of court are improper. And they have made that clear by filing in increasing numbers to have him removed from hearing those cases.

Chief among the complaints against Seiler is that his court has a predisposition against convicted sex offenders.

"Judge Seiler makes apparent that he views his position as prosecutorial rather than impartial," attorney Zachary Lee, with the State Counsel for Offenders, wrote in a motion for Seiler's recusal in the case of convicted sex-offender Troy Plaisance. "Judge Seiler's labeling of all sex offenders before him as 'predators,' before they are adjudicated as such connotes a bias."

That motion, and five others for recusal, were granted on Dec. 11.

Since September, attorneys have filed at least 16 motions calling for Seiler to be recused. Eight have been granted so far, by three different judges.

Those motions cite Seiler's 2008 election campaign slogan that claimed he was a "prosecutor to judge the predators," as well as a March 2013 speech to a Woodlands tea party organization in which he referred to offenders in the civil commitment program as "psychopaths."

In that same speech, a video of which was posted on YouTube, he suggested juries take a long time deliberating cases in his court because "they just want to make it look official."

The video was removed from YouTube in November, after several recusal petitions were filed.

Attorneys also referenced a news article about an appearance Seiler made to a Montgomery County Republican Women meeting in 2011 where, in response to a question about whether castration is successful in stopping predators, Seiler said it would be ineffective because sexual offending is a mental illness.

"The castration would have to kind of occur at neck level," he was quoted as saying.

Slippery slope for attorneys

Nancy Bunin, a Houston attorney who successfully had Seiler removed from hearing the cases of two of her clients, said filing for a removal is a slippery slope for attorneys, because if they lose, they may still have to try cases before that same judge. But she felt she had to take the step because "I just didn't feel he could be fair," she said

Of the 16 who filed recusals, eight were denied by two judges, with one of them saying during a hearing he felt Seiler's campaign slogan was not showing bias, but was merely referencing his résumé as a prosecutor.

An attempt in 2013 to remove Seiler from a civil commitment case was denied on appeal by judges on 9th Court of Appeals in Beaumont, who nevertheless found that Seiler's campaign slogan and reported comments "may raise a serious question about his fairness as a judicial officer."

Seiler's courtroom demeanor and decisions also have drawn scrutiny.

At Johnson's trial, for instance, Seiler repeatedly overruled his attorneys' objections, sometimes before they had even stated the grounds of the objection. Seiler also berated Johnson's attorney when he objected in the middle of a prosecutor's closing argument.

"He didn't treat the prosecution that way," said Nicoya Waits, Johnson's sister. "It all seemed really unfair."

During a 2012 hearing on housing options for about 40 men in the program, Seiler blocked the offenders from speaking and told Barbara Corley, their attorney, to "be quiet" when she tried to object and threatened to "throw her out of the courtroom," according to a transcript.

"He effectively denied me the right to represent my clients," Corley said.

Seiler has also come under fire by attorneys for his casual conversations with prospective jurors, particularly about his love for his 10-year-old daughter, Rachael, who suffers from Rett syndrome, an incurable genetic neurological disorder that causes difficulty with speech and muscle control.

Curtis Barton, an attorney with the Harris County Public Defender's Office who formerly tried civil-commitment cases in Seiler's court, said although the judge's conversations with jurors appear casual, he finds them troubling, because many of the defendants have been convicted of sex crimes involving children.

"When he gets up there and just starts pontificating to the jury about his daughter who has a disability, it might make them feel even more bad about something the person might have done in the past, and could influence their decision, " Barton said. "It's just an improper conversation to be having with people who could be on the jury."

A series of problems

The questions about Seiler's court represent just the latest in a series of issues that surfaced during a Chronicle investigation into contract and operational irregularities in the Office of Violent Sex Offender Management, the tiny agency that supervises offenders in civil commitment.

Those issues range from a botched attempt to secretly place offenders in residential neighborhoods in Houston and Austin, to a lack of treatment programs for mentally ill and disabled offenders.

Two separate investigations and a state audit are currently underway. Most of the top officials at the agency have resigned under fire.

Marsha McLane, a veteran parole and prison official who took over as executive director of the troubled agency in May, has initiated a series of policy changes to correct many of the problems.

When she introduced herself to Seiler for the first time in July, the meeting did not occur, as she expected, at his office, but in the courtroom - with him sitting on the bench and a court reporter making an official transcript of the proceedings.

According to the transcript obtained by the Chronicle, when McLane asked if Seiler would consider requiring some offenders to spend at least some time in a state hospital, where their needs might be better met, he declined, saying their mental health could be determined at a criminal trial after they violated program rules.

"Once they hit the criminal part of it, then they can be - have a mental competency evaluation and be sent off to the state hospital, where they are then kept there with the charge pending," Seiler said.

Attorney Barbara Corley said this was tantamount to criminalizing disability.

Decisions reversed

In at least seven cases, appellate courts have sided with defense attorneys, reversed Seiler's decisions in civil commitment cases and ordered new trials. Almost all civil-commitment cases are sent for appeal.

In four of those reversed cases, court records show, Seiler granted prosecutors' motions to exclude testimony of the defense's expert witness, who are the only witnesses in those trials who could dispute prosecutors' claims.

In a 2012 appellate opinion reversing Seiler's judgment in the civil commitment of Lester Winkle, Justice Charles Kreger wrote that by excluding the defense's expert testimony, Seiler blocked the only evidence the defendant had favoring a finding that he would not, beyond a reasonable doubt, likely re-offend. But in a dissenting opinion, now-retired Justice David Gaultney stated that the expert's opinion lacked sufficient evidence and his testimony would not have changed the trial's outcome.

In addition, jurors are often not advised what civil commitment is, attorneys said.

They also contend Seiler routinely does not allow the words "civil commitment" to be used in the courtroom. When that has happened, he has excused the jury from the room and reprimanded whoever used the phrase.

That is what happened to Carolyn Esparza, a 73-year-old social worker, when she testified during Johnson's trial and made a reference to his civil-commitment petition. Seiler's actions left her confused and angry, she said.

"Doesn't the jury have a right to know what the consequences of what they are doing?" she said later. "They should know that they are sending someone into a treatment program that no one has been released from in 15 years. That's 100 percent failure."

Echoing the opinion of other legal experts, Melissa Hamilton, a visiting criminal-law scholar at the University of Houston Law Center who specializes in the civil commitments, said an explanation of the program is not specifically prohibited and could be allowed by a judge.

Not doing so, she said, could be "about crafting a message."

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year! We kick off 2015 with the first official nominee for the 2015 Shiitake Awards

Voting for the 2014 Shiitake Awards started last night [To vote, click here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/5DGKT85]  and now we have our first stupid Predator Panic story of the year.

The NCMEC is warning hospitals not to announce the first baby birthed at their facilities because of fears of child abductors (and ID thieves). Thankfully I found a stat on just how often this happens, and it is even rarer than the average "stereotypical kidnapping." Well, Holy Shiitakes!

http://www.richmond.com/life/health/article_4e9207bb-5b1a-51aa-b33a-fbd78e408f91.html

Richmond area hospitals will not announce "first baby" of 2015
Posted: Tuesday, December 30, 2014 10:30 pm

Don’t look for local hospitals to boast that the first baby of the new year was born there.
In a joint statement released Tuesday, Bon Secours Richmond Health System, HCA Virginia and VCU Medical Center have said they will not announce the first birth of 2015 as a safety precaution and to protect families’ privacy.
It’s a trend, with more hospitals around the country declining to announce the first baby of the year for similar reasons.
“The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has cautioned against these announcements due to potential risk of abduction or identify theft. While the first birth of the New Year is a celebrated event, we jointly feel we must protect our patients and their children from unnecessary exposure,” the joint statement from the local hospitals said.
The National Center, in its policies, notes that many facilities no longer make such announcements but do share information with parents about how they may personally do so.