WHERE WE STAND: Information about released murderers, rapists, etc. should remain on state website.


New Jersey Department of Corrections

New Jersey Department of Corrections (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The state Department of Corrections last week removed the names, photos and descriptions of convicts who have been free for at least one year from the state’s inmate tracking websitehttps://www6.state.nj.us/DOC_Inmate/inmatesearch.jsp.

That altered a practice of nearly 10 years, in which the names and pictures of current and former state inmates had appeared on that website for anyone to view.

The listing also included the inmate’s date of birth, the nature of the offense and the county in which it occurred, the length of the sentence and the dates on which the inmate was incarcerated and released.

Corrections officials said they had been receiving a number of complaints from ex-cons that their presence on the website was making it harder for them to find jobs.

We have a certain amount of sympathy for their plight. Consider that the goal of incarceration, besides punishment, is to reform criminals and have them become productive, law-abiding members of society after they have finished their terms. A ex-convict who cannot get a job is more likely to become desperate and angry and return to committing crimes.

All that said, we don’t believe the argument about trouble in getting hired should carry the day for those convicted of the most serious crimes — murder, armed robbery, aggravated assault, etc. — and for repeat offenders.

Those who have served relatively short amounts of time for lesser nonviolent crimes don’t need to be lumped together with kidnappers, murderers and serial criminals who employers should want to know more about. After all, an employer has to consider his or her own safety and the safety of other employees.

So we believe a proper balance should be struck between the civil rights of those who have paid their debt to society and public safety. It’s really not much different than the provisions of Megan’s Law and making sure that people can learn about released sex offenders who might live or work near them. Those whose crimes are of a certain severity just don’t get the benefit of the doubt of being able to disappear entirely from the Department of Corrections website.

Gov. Chris Christie and lawmakers concerned about the general welfare of the public should exert what pressure they can on the Department of Corrections to develop a common-sense plan that, at the very least, differentiates between lifelong, hardened criminals and those convicted of minor offenses when determining whose picture and information stays on the website permanently and whose disappears after a year. It can be done.

Source:  Courier-Post OnLine

State Department of Corrections = New Jersey Department of Corrections

 

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Center for the Human Rights of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry


centre

centre (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“The Center for the Human Rights of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry (CHRUSP) provides strategic leadership in human rights advocacy, implementation and monitoring relevant to people experiencing madness, mental health problems, or trauma. In particular, CHRUSP works for full legal capacity for all, an end to forced drugging, forced electroshock and psychiatric incarceration, and for support that respects individual integrity and free will.”

 

Source:  http://www.madinamerica.com/2012/08/center-for-the-human-rights-of-users-and-survivors-of-psychiatry/

Sex offenders face lie detector tests


Downing Street, Whitehall, London (U.K.)

Downing Street, Whitehall, London (U.K.) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Updated 02:18 PM Jul 20, 2012

        LONDON – Rapists and other serious sex offenders in the UK may be forced to take lie detector tests when they leave prison, to reduce the chance of them of re-offending.
Downing Street is pressing for the introduction of mandatory polygraph testing, which monitors heart rate, brain activity and blood pressure, across England and Wales. The tests would apply to the 750 most serious sex offenders currently out on licence. A Downing Street source said two pilot programmes in the East and West Midlands probation regions between April 2009 and October 2011 found that mandatory lie detector tests prompted sex offenders to:
– Be more honest with their offender managers. A No 10 source said they provided probation staff with more information about the potential risks they pose.
– Make twice as many disclosures to probation staff, such as admitting that they had contacted a victim.
– Admit the tests helped them manage their own behaviour more effectively.
Any offenders found to have broken their licence as a result of a lie detector test would be sent back to prison. Strict conditions would still apply once they leave prison. They have to sign the sex offenders register and can be banned from certain areas and from contact with named people. There are around 750 serious sex offenders at any one time living in the community on licence.
A No 10 source said that the plan was still in its early stages. But Prime Minister David Cameron is said to have been impressed with the results of the pilot tests and has asked for the costs of extending the scheme across England and Wales to be assessed.
The No 10 source said: “It’s vital that we protect the public from serious sex offenders. That’s why the conditions after they leave prison need to be both strict and rigorously enforced.
“The pilot schemes using lie detectors to manage offenders in the community have been a success. So now we’re looking at how it could be rolled out to provide probation officers with more information to manage the most serious offenders.” Hertfordshire police said that last November the force tested “low level” sex offenders, and many presented a higher risk to children than previous estimates. Of 15 offenders tested, eight failed and six passed. One was caught trying to cheat by breathing erratically and talking slowly.
Downing Street is confident that extending the lie detector tests across England and Wales will not leave the government vulnerable to a challenge at the European court of human rights. When an offender took a case to Strasbourg under article 8 of the human rights convention the lie detector was deemed a proportionate way of preventing crime. GUARDIAN

Parental Quandary Considered: The Sex Offender Next Door Is Not the Problem


By KJ DELL’ANTONIA

C.’s quandary was simple, and read something like a nightmare (or the opening sequence of an episode of “Law and Order”). She’d received notice from the local sheriff that a registered sex offender was moving into the house next door to hers. This was no “Romeo and Juliet” misunderstood teen, but someone with a genuine history of preying on young men and boys, although not as young as C.’s toddler son.

A few days after C. wrote me, a friend e-mailed from Newton, Mass. A popular second-grade teacher at her local elementary school had just been arrested and charged with sexually assaulting a girl and filming it, and of posting to an international Web site that trafficked in child pornography. Rather than a sullen, mug-shot figure from an offender registry, this was a teacher described as “beloved,” one who took kids rock climbing and whom many parents adored. Which suggested to me that perhaps the biggest danger of having a sex offender next door might not be the sex offender himself, but that it might blind one to the dangers that could lie elsewhere.

The most respected commenters picked up on just that. Chris Martin put it simply: “Next door is pretty bad but we must remember that most perps live in the same house. Mine did.”

This doesn’t mean commenters weren’t sympathetic to the need to warn a child about the known danger. Maggie wrote:

In this situation I would certainly tell my kids they were not allowed in his house, no matter what he said. I would also tell them that, at one time in his life, he did something bad to children and I don’t want anything bad to happen to them. I would also point out that sometimes people can change and grow, so I’m not going to be unfriendly to him. But I would tell my children point blank that they are never to be alone with him, no matter what. I would point out other adults they might turn to instead, should the need arise — perhaps a neighbor, a teacher, a police officer.

 

The “sex offender next door” raises a gut reaction. As M.D. said, a home should be the safest of all environments. In C.’s situation, “I would lose that feeling of security and more importantly, it would forever change the way I parented my children.” M.D. would move without hesitation, but as many of us noted, C.’s ability to sell her home is probably compromised. It’s one thing to find a way to deal with the sex offender next door, and another to buy into the problem.

Readers had excellent suggestions for how C. can cope. “Convene a meeting of neighbors,” suggested Eleanor. “I would also use the occasion as good reason to really connect with friends in the neighborhood, with special attention to communicating with each other about the whereabouts of our kids,” boo agreed. “I would not act paranoid, but matter-of-fact about the dangers that apparently exist all around us. At least this  sex offender is known, and hopefully easily avoided.” SM suggested a good fence and a security system, and many, many commenters had good words with which to address the situation with a child. If all of us practice what we preach in that respect, our children should be prepared to handle the gravest of situations.

But do we? It’s easy to say we talk to our children about the risks, and harder to do, and especially to do well. No one wants a sex offender to move in next door, but it’s that Newton second-grade teacher who should heighten our fears, and our awareness.

“Mr. E,” as he was called, underwent a check of his state criminal history before he was hired by the school district, and posted a more extensive background check when he registered to offer baby-sitting services on Care.com (a popular child-care Web site). “No red flags were raised,” reports the Boston Globe, because there were no flags to raise. The teacher in question, David Ettlinger, had never been convicted of a crime — and still hasn’t been.

So while my sympathies are still with C., I’m not finding myself inclined to go look at our state’s sex offender registry tonight. Instead, I’m wondering if I’ve really had all these talks I mean to have, and think I’ve had, with all of my children. Do they really understand what’s O.K., and what’s not, and what they need to tell me about? Do they know that I’ll believe and protect them no matter who or what?

The thought of a sex offender next door is bad enough. But the sex offender I never see coming is the one I’m really worried about.

Price of Protection: A Victim Speaks Out


Just 10 months after a forensic psychologist persuaded King County jurors to set rapist Curtis Thompson free, Thompson attacked four more times killing one woman.

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