Friday, December 28, 2012

The early bills for 2013 state legislative session

Here are the early laws related to sex offenders already pre-filed for the upcoming session:

HB1:  Givan Crimes and Offenses H Pending Committee Action in House of Origin Judiciary 12/7/2012
Children, failure to report a missing child in the first degree, second degree, and in the third degree, failure to report the death of a child, false reporting to law enforcement authorities, crimes of established, Caylee's Law, Sec. 13A-10-9 am'd

ReFORM-AL is opposed to any named memorial laws as epitomies of unsound and asinine policy, and this law is no different.


HB 3: Drake Children H Pending Committee Action in House of Origin Judiciary 12/7/2012
Child abuse and neglect, mandatory reporting for all persons, training required for certain persons, criminal penalties for making false child abuse or neglect reports, criminal penalties for discharging, disciplining, or penalizing an employee for making a false report, The Savannah Hardin Mandatory Reporting Act, Sec. 26-14-3 am'd

ReFORM-AL opposes this bill, as an extension of the aformentioned Caylee's Law. If anything, the penalty for filing a false rape report should be stiffer than a mere Class C Misdemeanor.


SB1: Taylor Crimes and Offenses S Pending Committee Action in House of Origin Judiciary 5/24/2012
Children, failure to report a missing child in the first degree, second degree, and in the third degree, failure to report the death of a child, false reporting to law enforcement authorities, crimes of established, Caylee's Law

ReFORM-AL opposes of course, for the same reasons as before. This is starting to sound like a broken record.

SB8: Dial Civil Procedure S Pending Committee Action in House of Origin Judiciary 8/2/2012
Class action lawsuits filed in Alabama, plan for undistributed funds to be distributed to Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Department if class members cannot be located, or if distribution to class is not economically feasible, or if class members do not make a claim to the class funds

ReFORM-AL believes this law is a waste of that money that can be better used for non-pork projects that do not propagate sex offender myths, like education or health care.


Anyways, so far, it seems like the only action of concern is the symbolic Mandatory Reporting laws.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Charges Dropped Against Former ADA Steve Giardini

Just remember, folks, if you are a prosecutor, you live under different standards than us peons. Enjoy living above the law, Steve-0. You can see the actual court decision here.

Charges Dropped Against Former ADA Steve Giardini

(MOBILE, Ala.)  Just a week before his trial was set to begin, the charges against a former Mobile County Assistant District Attorney have been dropped. Steve Giardini, who once prosecuted sex offenders, was charged with child sex crimes. 

Giardini's first trial ended with a hung jury May 2011. A judge Monday afternoon granted the defense motion to dismiss the charges and also granted the defense motion for judgement of acquittal.

Giardini may have thought he was chatting online and on the phone with a 15-year-old girl, but in reality, he was talking to a male, undercover FBI agent. Their conversations were extremely sexual in nature. But because there was no victim, the judge said there was no case.

"The statute under which Steve was charged is a decades old statute that was never designed for computer solicitation or anything of that nature," said Giardini's defense attorney Dennis Knizley.

Knizley says now there is a law that covers when perpetrators think they are soliciting minors, even if they're not. Giardini had been charged with that, too, but the charge was dropped because the law went into effect in May 2009, one month after Giardini's activity stopped.

We went by Giardini's  Midtown home for comment Tuesday. No one came to the door.

Knizely says it's been three years, nine months since this case began, and with the judge's ruling, it's finally come to an end.

"It's not something to be condoned, but just because we don't like the conduct does not necessarily make it criminal. And in this case it was not criminal," said Knizley.

Knizley says Giardini has an active law license and family in Huntsville, but he has not discussed what Giardini's plans for the future are. 

The Alabama Attorney General's Office prosecuted the case and emailed this statement Tuesday afternoon:

"We are disappointed in the ruling of the court. We feel that our case was strong and cogent. We have no further comment at this time." 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Former legislator now must register as a sex offender

I don't know what his track record is on sex crimes, but I don't recall any dissenting votes when Alabama passed the Adamned Walsh Act.

Former state legislator, principal James Thomas convicted of sexual contact with student

The Associated PressBy The Associated Press 
on November 02, 2012 at 12:14 PM
Former Rep. James Thomas trialFormer state legislator James Thomas in the courtroom with his attorney Lewis Gillis in Camden, Ala., earlier this week. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
CAMDEN, Alabama — Former state Rep. James Thomas has been convicted of a charge of having sexual contact with a student. He was acquitted of a felony sexual abuse charge.
The 69-year-old Thomas was charged with having sexual contact with a 17-year-old honor student in his office at Wilcox-Central High School in Camden in November 2010.
The victim, now a 19-year-old college student, testified that Thomas kissed her and forced her to touch his "private parts."
Circuit Judge Jack Meigs ordered Thomas immediately taken into custody and set sentencing for Dec. 13.
District Attorney Michael Jackson said Thomas will have to register as a sex offender and won't be able to continue as principal. He has been on administrative leave for the past two years while he awaited trial.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloweenitis invades Alabama, 2012 edition

It's my birthday. Yes, I was born on Halloween. It is the day for scary things, and nothing is scarier than the fearmongering of our local members of the "law enforcement community."

I'm sure there will be more of the same as the day continues, but here are a couple of stupid articles exacerbating the new sex offender urban myth:

Watch out for sex offenders on Halloween, Jefferson County authorities warn
 By Carol Robinson |
on October 30, 2012 at 2:11 PM, updated October 30, 2012 at 2:33 PM Email | Print

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Alabama - As if Halloween isn't creepy enough already, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office has issued a warning to remind trick or treaters to stay away from the real creeps.

The ghoulish truth is convicted sex offenders are out there, sheriff's officials said, and parents and children need to know where they are and avoid those homes when planning their routes.

"It's just the world we live in now,'' said Chief Deputy Randy Christian. "The truth is it has always been a safety issue, but back in the old days there was no sex offender registry available. Our children were just out there without a safety net."

"The fact that we know where they are now is very helpful in arming our parents with that information,'' Christian said, "so they can make safe, good , decisions about avoiding them and keeping our young people out of harm's way."

To find out if there are any sex offenders nearby, go to the sheriff's office website at and click on Sex Offenders. "What we want more than anything,'' Christian said, "is for all of our little ghost and goblins to have a safe and fun Halloween."

Home Owners Should: Have a well-lit home both inside and out to prevent vandalism and injuries, remove all obstacles from their lawns to avoid injuries and don't use candles in ornaments that could set a fire.

Check their neighborhoods for known sex offenders by visiting _____ (website deleted)

I'd like to remind these people that research has shown that these laws are not necessary, as Halloween has already been safe.

There is no statewide law banning registrants from participating in Halloween, but use caution before engaging in any Halloween Activity. Cops are looking for any excuse to detain you.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Mike Jones trying to prevent halfway house in Andalusia

Another Alabama State Rep exploiting public fear for a re-election bid wants to stop a halfway house for registrants. Contact him and show him why preventing halfways houses for registrants is a bad idea.

Sex Offender Half-Way House Rep. Mike Jones

One Alabama lawmaker says ... He hears the concerns of Covington County residents regarding a possible halfway house for sex offenders ... Loud and clear.
Representative Mike Jones of Andalusia says he plans to co-sponsor a bill ... To keep convicted sex offender Carlton Bender ... From building such a facility.
It would be located in the natural bridge community near the Covington Walton county line.

Rep. Jones's contact info:




92nd District
(Covington and Escambia)

State House:Room 427-E
11 S. Union Street
Montgomery, AL 36130
(334) 242-7739
Home Address:

Work Address:
486 Sutton Road
Andalusia, AL. 36420

P.O. Box 957
Andalusia, AL. 36420

Home Phone:
Work Phone:
Cell Phone: Fax Number:

(334) 222-4367
(334) 222-0111
(334) 804-8240
(334) 427-1671


Saturday, August 25, 2012

For law enforcement and neighbors, sex offender clusters present difficult problem

This is an article from the Mobile County Lagniappe, a local interest paper. I thought it was a very well written piece, not just because I'm in it.

For law enforcement and neighbors, sex offender clusters present difficult problem

By Katie Nichols
AUGUST 7, 2012

A grandmother sits outside her West Mobile home watching her 6-year-old grandson do figure eights on a bicycle. A typical summertime scene played out in most residential neighborhoods every day until the threatening skies of an afternoon thunderstorm forces little ones and their caretakers safely back inside. But little did this grandmother know there was something far more potentially threatening than the dark afternoon skies living less than a mile away.

The grandmother interviewed by Lagniappe seemed shocked to learn a "cluster” of sex offenders live so close to her. But how could she know? Her home falls just outside the zone required for notification of a sex offender’s presence.

"There’s how many sex offenders over there?” asked the grandmother, who wished to remain anonymous. "There’s 12 sex offenders just up there? Well, he ain’t coming out here by himself anymore.”

The grandmother lives close to one of three groupings of more than 10 sex offenders in Mobile County. She just happens to live near the largest inside the city limits — the Taylor Motel, located at 2598 Government Boulevard. According to county records, 12 convicted sex offenders currently live at the motel.

The grandmother starts to gather the kid’s bike and other toys and said, "He’s not going to be around any of them. I’d trust a murderer with him before I did a pedophile.”

While the grandmother worries about her young grandson, men who are "forced” to live in  sparse cinder block motel rooms, like those at the Taylor, say they have served their time, but they’re still in a virtual prison. 

Sex offenders all over the nation are convening together, and not because they want to live with other sex criminals, but because the laws are inadvertently creating these "clusters.”

A sex offender cluster is a concentrated group of registered sex offenders who live at the same address. These typically can form in motels and mobile home parks, but can also develop in some apartment complexes. "Clustering” is happening all over the country because, according to experts, it is an "unintended consequence” of state laws that limit where offenders can live.

In Mobile County, there are three clusters with more than 10 offenders living permanently. The largest grouping of sex offenders in Mobile County is at a modest RV park in Irvington, with 15 offenders living at 7530 Highway 90, according to OffenderSearch, an online database for sheriff’s offices. The two other clusters are in Mobile and are less than five miles apart. Twelve sex offenders live at Taylor Motel, and 10 offenders live at Crest Hotel, 4421 Government Blvd., according to OffenderSearch.

Every sex offender Lagniappe spoke to freely admitted they are social pariahs. Securing a decent job, housing or a normal life is nearly impossible, but it can happen if you luck into finding a person willing to help, which is rare.

One person who saw a need for a space for sex offenders to live is Bill Buckner, who owns and operates the RV park in Irvington. 

"I’ve been letting sex offenders stay here since 2002, but I’ve owned the place since 1998,” he said. "I do it because a lot of them have no other place to go. I have some mighty fine guys out there, and I have some that aren’t.”

Buckner doesn’t have anything against sex offenders, but doesn’t put up with violent ones.

"I don’t have to run them out of here … the police do that,” he said. "I don’t have a big turnover like some of the other places. Right now I have two or three guys in jail because they weren’t doing what they’re supposed to do. A lot of the guys here are trying.”

Buckner is clearly respected by the tenants and for good reason. The detectives in charge of monitoring the sex offenders call him when there’s a problem. 

"It’s not my responsibility to watch them, but, yeah, I do take it as my own,” he said. "If they’re doing what they should, then it’s better for everyone.”

Even though most of Buckner’s tenants are appreciative of his kindness, not everyone likes having an area teeming with sex offenders in their city. Buckner talked about people’s reaction to his tenants and said once people find out they either treat him like a sex offender, which he is not, or don’t really care.

"I can tell when people have a problem. They don’t have to say anything, but I’ve been around the block and can tell when it bothers them,” he said. "You have other people that don’t hold it against you and then you have those that do. It doesn’t bother me though. I’m doing what I think I should.”

One of the people who support Buckley’s decision happens to be residing at the RV Park. Don, who is not a sex offender, didn’t want his last name revealed and has lived in the park on and off for 13 years, said living in the park is "extremely tense.”

Living among sex offenders isn’t Don’s wish, but he said sometimes you have to do what you have to do.

"I wish (Buckner) wouldn’t have done it, but he’s a great person and friend so I’ll respect his decision,” Don said. "There are some people here who I think shouldn’t be on the list and then there are others that shouldn’t be living.”

Don motioned to an RV just a few feet from his camper and said, "This guy here is a piece of trash. He’s a real pedophile. You got guys like him who are just sick and then you got guys that work, try to do right and make something out of themselves. They’re the ones who shouldn’t be on the list.”

Don isn’t just an average person living amongst sex offenders. A long time ago, Don said, a pedophile took one of the most precious things in his life.

"I had a child killed by a sex offender,” he said with tears in his eyes. "That pedophile killed my 9-year-old daughter. I will never get over that. My wife Betty, who is now dead, never got over it. 

"There’s no place in this world for a pedophile,” he added.

The grandmother near Taylor Motel felt the same way.

"If you’re found guilty of hurting a child like that, then … I just don’t know. People like that can’t be with the rest of civilization. There’s something just wrong with them, and I don’t think they can get better,” she said. "It’s like once you have that against you, then the rest of the world … the regular world, is against you.”

The sex offenders interviewed said they feel the same — that there are few places for them, and they’re always against everyone else. 

"It was incredibly hard for me to find a place,” said convicted sex offender Ron Morrison who lives at the RV Park. "When I got out of prison the law was you couldn’t leave as a sex offender if you didn’t have an address. You couldn’t be homeless and be a registered sex offender. 

"Well, I spent an extra 20 days in prison because I didn’t have anywhere to go.”

Morrison was one of many sex offenders who spoke with Lagniappe who was at one time homeless. Morrison however, has a different set of challenges. 

"I was living in the woods because I didn’t have anywhere else to go and I almost died,” he said. "I was out there for weeks without supplies for my colostomy. Anyway, I walked out of the woods without any clothes on beside my drawers and a couple of people just happened to pass by. They called 9-1-1 and I spent a long time in the hospital. I didn’t want to live in the woods, but I didn’t have anywhere else to go.”

M.C. Hudson and Gary Padgett, who both live at the RV Park, also had difficult experiences finding a place to live that are accepted by state law. 

"It’s pretty tough,” Hudson said. "I’d been several places before here. Whenever the fliers (notifying about a sex offender) go out, that’s when you get evicted and you gotta move again.”

Even among sex offenders, they tend to separate themselves from each other.

During interviews, a clear line separating convicted pedophiles, a person attracted to children, and other sex offenders formed quickly. Non-sex offenders and sex-offenders alike classified pedophiles as the lowest of the low. Other sex offenders who said they should one day be removed the registry also stated pedophiles should never be let out of prison. 

"There’s a lot of people on the list that shouldn’t be,” Morrison said. "I was convicted 21 years ago of fondling my niece. My stepdaughter started that mess and even my niece’s mom said I didn’t do anything. I pleaded guilty before I knew what it meant. I haven’t been convicted of any other sex offense since, but I’m still a sex offender.”

Morrison, who was convicted of sexual abuse first degree of a 6-year-old, supported the idea of others that pedophiles are a lower class of sex offender. 

"I don’t see how anyone can want a child like that,” he said. "It’s not right.”

Each sex offender interviewed said pedophiles shouldn’t be allowed out of prison, but argued for leniency for their own situations, although some had been convicted of abusing children under 12 years old.

A remedy for the clustering and living arrangements in general for sex offenders is not something easily solved.

The problem, Mobile County Sheriff Sam Cochran said, is no one wants sex offenders living near schools and daycares nor do people want sex offender clusters, but the two create each other.

"There are very few places in the city of Mobile where a sex offender can live, so that’s why you get the clustering,” Cochran said. "It’s easier to find places to live for a sex offender in rural areas, but then they are away from public transportation and places where they get treatment for mental problems and drug or alcohol problems.”

The solution is something that evades legislators and law enforcement officials alike. 

"No one wants to appear to be sympathetic to sex offenders especially elected officials,” Cochran said. "That being said, I’m not sure what can be done to deal with clusters and sex offenders living near places where there are children.

"I think if there was a place where sex offenders could live sort of separately and get the help they need would be the best, but that would probably be a problem somehow too.”

In Mobile County, there are 185 active registered sex offenders according to Cochran. Keeping up with them, including the 19 homeless offenders can be tricky, but technology has helped with the problem.

"We now are part of the state’s system that people can check 24 hours a day,” he said. "The deputies can use that to put an address in and see if it violates any rule of living 1,000-feet from a school or daycare.”

Although technology has helped with tracking, ever-changing laws typically mean new challenges for law enforcement, but sometimes the new laws can help agencies.

"Well, usually the laws make it more difficult, but recently a law was passed that sex offenders can leave prison without an address. 

"It used to be that we would have to hold them until they found a place to live. That meant I’d have a lot of sex offenders who had served their time just sitting in prison, which costs money.

"Well, now they can be homeless as long as they check in every week. They have to give us an area they live in like a bench or bridge. Even then, they can’t stay in certain areas.”

Keeping up with sex offenders even with dedicated deputies, police, volunteers and technology doesn’t mean there won’t be some who fall through the cracks. 
It became apparent in talking with people who live in clusters that not everyone who is registered at an address actually lives where they say they do.

"Oh, that guy hasn’t been here in about a month,” Don said. "There are a lot of them who say they live here, but don’t. They get caught here though because Bill and I’ll tell the police.”

An employee at Taylor Motel spoke to Lagniappe on the condition of anonymity. The employee went down a list of sex offenders who were supposed to live at the motel.
A number of the offenders moved out weeks ago and were not registered at other locations, lived at the motel only on the weekends or simply held that address, but did not actually live there, the employee said.

Even though the likelihood of changing state laws to help sex offenders is slim-to-none, there are a few offenders who work toward the goal.

Derek Logue is a registered sex offender and unless laws change, he will always need to register or check in anytime he moves or goes on vacation more than a couple of days.
Logue pleaded guilty to sexual assault first degree in 2000 after he had contact with an 11-year-old girl in Alabama. 

After his conviction and three years served in the Bullock County Correctional Facility in Union Springs, Ala., Logue began trying to change laws regarding sex offenders through groups like ReFORM Alabama (Registered Former Offenders Restoration Movement), in which he is active.

Logue, who now lives in Cincinnati, says if he had it his way, people convicted of a sexual offense would serve their time and be done with it. 

"The registry doesn’t work,” he said in a phone interview. "Limiting where sex offenders can live doesn’t work either. We’ve served our time.”

Logue said the rate of recidivism is lower for sex offenders than nearly any other major crime, yet the group is monitored unlike bank robbers, murderers and other criminals.
According to the Bureau of Justice Labor Statistics, the rate of recidivism for sex offenders three years out of prison is 5.3 percent and compared to non-sex offenders released from state prisons, released sex offenders were four times more likely to be rearrested for a sex crime.

The bureau also found about 1 percent of the released prisoners who had served time for murder were arrested for another homicide within three years, and about two percent of the rapists were arrested for another rape within that period.

While murderers and rapists (classified separately) are less likely to commit the same crime than sex offenders, sex offenders are still among the lowest for rearrest compared to other offenses, according to the bureau.

Logue said the stigma attached to sex offenders is what causes problems for the convicts. 

"When I was trying to find a place to live after I was released from prison, which you have to do or you’re arrested for failure to register, I searched everywhere for a (half-way) house that took sex offenders,” he said. "Just a few days before I was released I heard back from a house in Ohio.

"I’m from Sheffield, Ala. and I moved back there in 2009. Then, I moved back to Ohio, but if I want to even go visit my mother, who lives in the country (rural area), I have to register there if I’m going to be there for like five days. Other convicts don’t have to worry about registering. The registry isn’t a magical list.”

Not surprisingly, Logue is not in favor of any type of anti-clustering laws, and cited Jefferson County’s 2011 legislation as how laws can create problems and not solutions.
He felt the laws only hindered rehabilitation for sex offenders.

"Sex offenders should have another chance,” he said. 

A second chance will be hard to come by though. Law enforcement officials, lawmakers, neighbors and even other sex offenders were not quick to offer another shot at life.

"Why should they have another chance,” the grandmother asked. "If they were found guilty, then they’re guilty.”

Toeing the line of pedophile versus other sex offenders, Hudson, who lives at the RV park and was convicted of sodomy first degree of two females and one male under the age of 16, said people who hurt children shouldn’t be helped either.

Don, the man who isn’t but lives among them and who counts several sex offenders as his friends, said certain convicts shouldn’t be required to register, but others should never be released from prison. 

Sheriff Cochran summed up the plight of the offenders. 

"Even if you want to help them, you can’t,” he said. "No one can look like they’re helping sex offenders.”

With clusters still legal in the state of Alabama and no a solution in sight, a 6-year-old boy stays with his grandmother less than a mile away from a cluster where two sex offenders abused another 6-year-old, and Don, who’s 9-year-old daughter was killed by a pedophile, lives just feet from an offender who was convicted of abusing an 8-year-old. 

The only thing the offenders and non-offenders have in common are neither are happy about the situation.  

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Poor Land in Jail as Companies Add Huge Fees for Probation

This is another thing about Alabama to watch out for; most of us on the registry do not have the money to pay our fines and other penalties. It really is all about the money.

Poor Land in Jail as Companies Add Huge Fees for Probation
Published: July 2, 2012

CHILDERSBURG, Ala. — Three years ago, Gina Ray, who is now 31 and unemployed, was fined $179 for speeding. She failed to show up at court (she says the ticket bore the wrong date), so her license was revoked.

When she was next pulled over, she was, of course, driving without a license. By then her fees added up to more than $1,500. Unable to pay, she was handed over to a private probation company and jailed — charged an additional fee for each day behind bars.

For that driving offense, Ms. Ray has been locked up three times for a total of 40 days and owes $3,170, much of it to the probation company. Her story, in hardscrabble, rural Alabama, where Krispy Kreme promises that “two can dine for $5.99,” is not about innocence.

It is, rather, about the mushrooming of fines and fees levied by money-starved towns across the country and the for-profit businesses that administer the system. The result is that growing numbers of poor people, like Ms. Ray, are ending up jailed and in debt for minor infractions.

“With so many towns economically strapped, there is growing pressure on the courts to bring in money rather than mete out justice,” said Lisa W. Borden, a partner in Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, a large law firm in Birmingham, Ala., who has spent a great deal of time on the issue. “The companies they hire are aggressive. Those arrested are not told about the right to counsel or asked whether they are indigent or offered an alternative to fines and jail. There are real constitutional issues at stake.”

Half a century ago in a landmark case, the Supreme Court ruled that those accused of crimes had to be provided a lawyer if they could not afford one. But in misdemeanors, the right to counsel is rarely brought up, even though defendants can run the risk of jail. The probation companies promise revenue to the towns, while saying they also help offenders, and the defendants often end up lost in a legal Twilight Zone.

Here in Childersburg, where there is no public transportation, Ms. Ray has plenty of company in her plight. Richard Garrett has spent a total of 24 months in jail and owes $10,000, all for traffic and license violations that began a decade ago. A onetime employee of United States Steel, Mr. Garrett is suffering from health difficulties and is without work. William M. Dawson, a Birmingham lawyer and Democratic Party activist, has filed a lawsuit for Mr. Garrett and others against the local authorities and the probation company, Judicial Correction Services, which is based in Georgia.

“The Supreme Court has made clear that it is unconstitutional to jail people just because they can’t pay a fine,” Mr. Dawson said in an interview.

In Georgia, three dozen for-profit probation companies operate in hundreds of courts, and there have been similar lawsuits. In one, Randy Miller, 39, an Iraq war veteran who had lost his job, was jailed after failing to make child support payments of $860 a month. In another, Hills McGee, with a monthly income of $243 in veterans benefits, was charged with public drunkenness, assessed $270 by a court and put on probation through a private company. The company added a $15 enrollment fee and $39 in monthly fees. That put his total for a year above $700, which Mr. McGee, 53, struggled to meet before being jailed for failing to pay it all.

“These companies are bill collectors, but they are given the authority to say to someone that if he doesn’t pay, he is going to jail,” said John B. Long, a lawyer in Augusta, Ga., who is taking the issue to a federal appeals court this fall. “There are things like garbage collection where private companies are O.K. No one’s liberty is affected. The closer you get to locking someone up, the closer you get to a constitutional issue.”

The issue of using the courts to produce income has caught the attention of the country’s legal establishment. A recent study by the nonpartisan Conference of State Court Administrators, “Courts Are Not Revenue Centers,” said that in traffic violations, “court leaders face the greatest challenge in ensuring that fines, fees and surcharges are not simply an alternate form of taxation.”

J. Scott Vowell, the presiding judge of Alabama’s 10th Judicial Circuit, said in an interview that his state’s Legislature, like many across the country, was pressuring courts to produce revenue, and that some legislators even believed courts should be financially self-sufficient.

In a 2010 study, the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law examined the fee structure in the 15 states — including California, Florida and Texas — with the largest prison populations. It asserted: “Many states are imposing new and often onerous ‘user fees’ on individuals with criminal convictions. Yet far from being easy money, these fees impose severe — and often hidden — costs on communities, taxpayers and indigent people convicted of crimes. They create new paths to prison for those unable to pay their debts and make it harder to find employment and housing as well as to meet child support obligations.”

Most of those fees are for felonies and do not involve private probation companies, which have so far been limited to chasing those guilty of misdemeanors. A decade or two ago, many states abandoned pursuing misdemeanor fees because it was time-consuming and costly. Companies like Judicial Correction Services saw an opportunity. They charge public authorities nothing and make their money by adding fees onto the bills of the defendants.

Stephen B. Bright, president of the Southern Center for Human Rights, who teaches at Yale Law School, said courts were increasingly using fees “for such things as the retirement funds for various court officials, law enforcement functions such as police training and crime laboratories, victim assistance programs and even the court’s computer system.” He added, “In one county in Pennsylvania, 26 different fees totaling $2,500 are assessed in addition to the fine.”

Mr. Dawson’s Alabama lawsuit alleges that Judicial Correction Services does not discuss alternatives to fines or jail and that its training manual “is devoid of any discussion of indigency or waiver of fees.”

In a joint telephone interview, two senior officials of Judicial Correction Services, Robert H. McMichael, its chief executive, and Kevin Egan, its chief marketing officer, rejected the lawsuit’s accusations. They said that the company does try to help those in need, but that the authority to determine who is indigent rests with the court, not the company.

“We hear a lot of ‘I can’t pay the fee,’ ” Mr. Egan said. “It is not our job to figure that out. Only the judge can make that determination.” Mr. Egan said his company had doubled the number of completed sentences where it is employed to more than two-thirds, from about one-third, and that this serves the company, the towns and the defendant. “Our job is to keep people out of jail,” he said. “We have a financial interest in getting them to comply. If they don’t pay, we don’t get paid.”

Mr. Bright, of the Southern Center for Human Rights, said that with the private companies seeking a profit, with courts in need of income and with the most vulnerable caught up in the system, “we end up balancing the budget on the backs of the poorest people in society.”

Monday, July 2, 2012

Opinion column puts the DOH! in the Dothan Eagle

In DOH-than's defense, they ARE this close to Flori-DUH. 

Just when I think the news cannot get any dumber, you get this idiotic op-ed courtesy of the Dothan Eagle.

Thanks, DOH-than Eagle!

Geez, only in Alabama could this crap pass for news worthiness.

Letter: A modest proposal

By: Bill DeJournett, Dothan | Dothan Eagle 
Published: July 01, 2012

Jerry Sandusky, the convicted child molester, will spend the rest of his life in prison at taxpayers’ expense.  Why not just buy a 10-foot rope and toss it into his cell?  If he is on a suicide watch, let his own hand execute justice. 

Justification can be found in the Bible; see Mark 9:42.  Jesus said "And whosoever offends one of these little ones, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged around his neck, and he were cast into the sea." 

My interpretation of this Holy Scripture is that suicide is a better option for child molesters, not 40 years in prison. 

Let not your heart be troubled about the possible repercussions from the bleeding heart liberals, who would scream "inhumane cruelty."  God has specified exact judgment and he is not cruel.

Oh well, I know this is not going to even be considered because of our sin nature and the spiritual disobedience in our society. 

Am I wrong?

Bill DeJournett


And here is a comment in the message board:

You damn straight you are wrong, Bill. Shame on the Dothan Eagle for even posting this vile filth! And to top it off, the man MISQUOTES SCRIPTURE!

2 Peter 1:20-- Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things.

So Bill's private revelation is invalid.

Next time, read the entire chapter. 

If you read Matthew 18, which also has the same verse, you'd understand Christ was speaking of any dissent and scandal within the church which led ANY BELIEVER astray, which is EXACTLY what Bill is doing. 

Another thing, Johnathan Swift's 'A Modest Proposal' was a satirical discussion of cannibalizing children for the sake of humankind. I can think of no better headline to describe the farce of Bill's entire stupid argument.


Nothing like using the Bible to justify hatred and violence. What about the verse in Galatians that says, "a man who says he loves God yet hates his brother is a liar?" 

No amount of hate, intolerance, or vile suggestions will help Sandusky's victims (or victims of abuse anywhere) heal. Perpetuating the cycle of pain makes you no better than those you wish death upon.

Well stated.

Guess what else passes for news in DOH-than?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

In Alabama Prisons, the Less Sheriffs Spend on Food for Inmates, the More They Earn

I'm not the biggest fan of Sheriff Mike Rainey, but I'm glad he has the guts to stand up to this bad law. The gist of the story is there is an old law that says the sheriff gets X amount of dollars per day to feed an inmate and whatever is left over, they can pocket. Another sheriff was jailed a couple years back for starving inmates to pocket more money. But it was only for one day.

In Alabama Prisons, the Less Sheriffs Spend on Food for Inmates, the More They Earn

Adam Peck
Published: Tuesday 26 June 2012

It took almost three quarters of a century, but one Sheriff in Alabama is finally speaking out against a 1939 law that allows for the state’s 67 sheriffs to keep leftover money the state provides to each municipality for feeding inmates in local prisons.

Sheriff Mike Rainey reportedly received $295,294 from the local, state and federal governments to spend on food for the county’s inmate population. But thanks to the old law, Rainey is entitled to pocket any money left over after he fulfills his responsibility of feeding his inmates.

It’s not hard to imagine how such a system could lead to massive corruption. In 2009, former Morgan County Sheriff Greg Bartlett was himself put behind bars after he admitted to keeping more than $200,000 from the prison’s food budget while the inmates he oversaw were provided with inadequate food.

Remarkably, Bartlett may not have actually broken any laws, a point the Alabama Sheriffs Association made to defend Bartlett during his trial.

Sheriff Rainey, who is calling on the legislature to end the current system in favor of allowing county commissions to oversee the funding, says he has donated most of his potential earnings to charity, upwards of $10,000 so far. He also wants to ensure that inmates are served fresh, healthy food, he told the Montgomery Advertiser:

“Incarceration is punishment. I know some people think you shouldn’t worry about what an inmate eats, but I think it’s a moral issue,” Rainey said. “They’re not getting filet mignon, but they’re certainly not being served green bologna, nor will they be served something like that.”

The Alabama legislature has tried to pass bills before repealing the 1939 law, most recently in 2009, but those bills have failed to advance to the Governor’s desk.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Quote of the week from Chris Conolly, Lauderdale County District Attorney

Chris Conolly admits the registry is punitive in the following article. For many years, Smith v. Doe, the landmark SCOTUS decision from 2003, upholds the registry as a regulation, not a punitive/criminal function, thus preventing constitutional arguments from attacking Megan's flaw. Nearly a full decade later, it is obvious Emperor Megan has no clothes.

"She will have to register as a sex offender and that's a big ticket item obviously because that's a life sentence," said Chris Conolly, Lauderdale County District Attorney. "That's the community notification; that's quarterly registration; that's restrictions about employment and where she can live so that's a huge part of this agreement."

And in case you missed it the first time,

No matter what the judge orders, the district attorney says Allen must register as a sex offender.   A punishment Connolly says, will last a lifetime.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tougher surveillance law could put Peeping Toms on sex offender list

They're trying to add as many to the list as possible:

Tougher surveillance law could put Peeping Toms on sex offender list
Published: Tuesday, June 12, 2012, 9:07 AM     Updated: Tuesday, June 12, 2012, 3:38 PM
 By Paul Gattis, The Huntsville Times 

(Stock image)
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- Robert James Bell of Decatur has already been convicted seven times for criminal surveillance. He's currently in jail in Morgan County for three more charges of surveillance, as well as three burglary counts. Warrants for surveillance are also outstanding in Huntsville and Michigan.
Yet, because Bell kept slipping through the criminal justice system to commit the same crimes again, Decatur city prosecutor Emily Baggett took action.
After Baggett pushed for tougher penalties, Sen. Arthur Orr sponsored a bill that was signed into law by Gov. Robert Bentley in April.
Now a conviction of criminal surveillance for the purpose of sexual gratification could, at the discretion of the prosecutor, result in placement on the sex offender registry.
"This one case brought the issue to the forefront," Baggett said Monday.
According to Baggett, Bell is 50 years old with ties to Michigan but he is listed in court records with a Spring Avenue address in Decatur. He would spy on women in bathroom stalls in restaurants and department stores, said Baggett.
A pattern developed in Alabama, where Bell was arrested for surveillance in Decatur and Athens, as well as the case pending in Huntsville.
There were similar incidents in Michigan, where a felony extradition order has been filed.
"If you really think about it, if somebody does this a lot, and some people do, you want to be aware," Baggett said. "It's kind of scary that somebody can continue to watch somebody in the bathroom and nothing really ever happens."
Senate Bill 148 changed that. It's now aggravated criminal surveillance to spy on someone with a reasonable expectation of privacy - such as a bathroom stall in a restaurant - "for the purpose of sexual gratification."
The crime has been upgraded to a Class A misdemeanor - which meets the level of requiring to register as a sexual offender, Baggett said. A second conviction on aggravated criminal surveillance is a Class C felony.
Previously, each conviction was a Class B misdemeanor.
Orr, who sponsored the bill, said the issue resonated with the Legislature because neighboring states have tougher criminal surveillance laws. And Alabama's previous law "was not enhanced for repeat offenders," Orr said.
"It's not something that will hopefully be used a lot," Baggett said. "But with technology, there is a concern about sexual voyeurism. Our laws don't really, in comparisons to other states, don't have the protection."

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Alabama Women's Prison Inmates Sexually Abused By Guards, Report Says

Alabama abuses inmates. The DOC is corrupt.

Alabama Women's Prison Inmates Sexually Abused By Guards, Report Says

Alabama Womens Prison
First Posted: 05/22/12 07:30 PM ET Updated: 05/23/12 01:19 PM ET

Corrections officers at the only women's prison in Alabama regularly sexually harass, abuse and even rape female inmates with few consequences, according to a new report by a civil rights organization.

Numerous female inmates at Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, Ala., reported becoming pregnant after being raped by male correctional staff over the past five years, said Bryan Stevenson, executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), which investigated the allegations. Other sexual misconduct, including pervasive harassment, unwanted touching and invasion of privacy, is commonplace, Stevenson said.

Consensual sex between staff and inmates is strictly forbidden by prison regulations, but is also a regular occurrence, with staff requiring women to perform sexual favors in exchange for smuggled contraband goods, the report found.

"What we found is pretty shocking," Stevenson said. "We think there's widespread sex abuse and assaults of women by correctional staff."

Tutwiler, which holds more than 700 inmates, was identified by the Department of Justice in 2007 as the most dangerous women's prison in the country.

Kim Thomas, the Alabama Department of Corrections commissioner, said the agency was aware of the allegations. "This is a matter of grave concern to me," Thomas said in a statement. "Sexual misconduct of any kind, including custodial sexual misconduct, is not tolerated by this department."

Thomas did not address any of the specific allegations in the EJI report. The report's findings include allegations that inmates who reported sexual abuse by guards to senior corrections staff, including the warden, Frank Albright, say they were placed in solitary confinement, lost privileges and were subjected to verbal abuse.

"Many of them reported encounters with the warden that they characterize as abusive, threatening and intimidating," Stevenson said. "The women report that when you complain, you are placed in segregation and are subjected to very aggressive treatment by investigators and other staff. It is not an environment that encourages people to come forward with instances of abuse."

In his statement, Thomas said that the corrections department was "committed to improving security and providing for the safety of inmates and officers at Tutwiler."

The state's criminal justice system has also failed to aggressively punish guards who abuse inmates, Stevenson said. According to court records reviewed by EJI, six Tutwiler employees have been indicted on charges of sexual misconduct involving inmates since 2010. All of the charges were settled with plea bargains, and only one prison employee served more than six days in jail.

Stevenson said the Alabama attorney general's office had been alerted to the problem through lawsuits filed against the state on behalf of women raped and impregnated while they were inmates at Tutwiler. The state has aggressively fought to have the litigation dismissed. Suzanne Webb, a spokeswoman for the attorney general's office, said the agency had no comment on the report.

The Alabama Department of Corrections, meanwhile, has underreported sexual misconduct at the prison in official reports, according to court records obtained by EJI. In 2009, the corrections department reported no instances of sexual abuse at the prison, even as two officers at the facility were indicted for sexual misconduct.

EJI has requested a criminal and civil investigation by the Justice Department into the alleged misconduct and the failure of Alabama authorities to oversee the prison and aggressively prosecute abusers. Xochitl Hinojosa, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said in an email that the agency is reviewing the allegations.

A 2011 Huffington Post investigation found that there is widespread brutality in Alabama prisons and limited oversight by corrections officials or state law enforcement.

The report comes just days after the Justice Department finalized new regulations requiring state corrections facilities to prevent, detect and respond to sexual abuse. The new standards specifically call for jail and prisons to restrict the use of solitary confinement as a means to protect inmates who have reported sexual abuse. The standards are mandated by the Prison Rape Elimination Act, a federal law passed with broad bipartisan majorities in 2003.

Nearly 10 percent of former inmates in state jails and prisons reported being sexually victimized by a corrections staff member or another inmate, according to the results of a survey released earlier this year by the Justice Department.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Alabama ranks 14th in false sex crime convictions

If you go by PER CAPITA (number of false convictions per 1000), Alabama actually ranks 10TH. A new exoneration registry spotlights a number of false convictions, with 80%+ the result of faulty "eyewitness testimony." I'm willing to bet many are also the result of prosecutorial misconduct, more than the 1/3 of cases known to be the result of official misconduct. Yet Alabama denies this is a serious problem.

Exoneration lists expose causes for wrong convictions in Jefferson County and across nation
Published: Sunday, May 20, 2012, 10:30 AM 

Five men from Jefferson County and 12 others convicted but later cleared in Alabama courts are listed on a new national exoneration registry designed to highlight the issue of wrongful convictions and explain why they happen.

The registry, compiled by the University of Michigan Law School and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law, profiles 873 cases from January 1989 through February 2012. The registry will be made available to the public online starting Monday.

Each convicted defendant was later cleared through DNA, confession by the real criminal or other circumstances. Most involved murder and sexual assault cases.

The cases highlight the legal pitfalls that can lead to wrong convictions, said authors of a study based on the registry, Samuel Gross and Michael Shaffer.

"The more we learn about false convictions, the better we'll be at preventing them -- or if that fails, finding and correcting them as best we can after the fact," Gross said in a statement.

The study found that bad eyewitness testimony was a factor in 94 percent of the exonerations, either because a person mistakenly identified the defendant or lied to put him behind bars.

Alabama, with one federal and 16 state exonerations on the registry, ranked 14th nationally for total false convictions. Broken down per capita, Alabama ranked 10th nationally, according to the report.
But the study's authors said the numbers can be misleading, because states like Alabama, Illinois and Michigan with larger Death Row populations and organizations dedicated to ferret out wrongly-convicted people will be disproportionately represented.

Also, cases such as homicide and sexual assault, which often involve DNA evidence and result in longer sentences, are more likely to provide the means and time needed to prove the wrong person was convicted, the study found.

Nearly 6 in 10 of the people on the registry were cleared by DNA. It took an average of 12 years from conviction and 13 years from arrest for them to find justice, the study found.
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange said he has confidence in the integrity of state criminal proceedings.

"The many safeguards in place provide sufficient opportunity to correct the very few errors that are made," he said in a statement. "Sixteen errors out of tens of thousands of convictions does not indicate a systemic problem but rather supports the high degree of accuracy in our proceedings."

High number

The study's authors concluded the actual number of wrong convictions is much higher.
Gross and Shaffer intentionally defined exoneration narrowly, only listing on the registry cases the authors identified in which a court, prosecutor, or governor found post-conviction evidence of innocence persuasive enough to drop the charge, release the defendant, order a new trial that resulted in acquittal or issue a pardon.

"It is clear that the exonerations we found are the tip of an iceberg," said Gross, a University of Michigan law professor and editor of the registry. "Most people who are falsely convicted are not exonerated; they serve their time or die in prison. And when they are exonerated, a lot of times it happens quietly."
More than 90 percent of the exonerated defendants are male. Half are black.

About 15 percent of the exonerations involved people who confessed to crimes they did not commit. Often these were juveniles or mentally-disabled defendants, the study found.
The study also found the main factors behind wrong convictions varied by crime:

Murder: Perjury or false accusations were found in nearly two-thirds of those exonerations. Official misconduct, from suggestive interview techniques to fabrication of evidence, also was found in more than half of those cases.

Adult sexual assaults: Mistaken witness identification was involved 80 percent of the time, and was especially prevalent when victim and defendant were different races. Nearly 4 in 10 cases also involved false or misleading forensic evidence.

Child sex abuse: The accuser most often made up the crime, the study found. Official misconduct also was found in more than one-third of the cases.

Many child-abuse exonerations stemmed from what the authors called the "hysteria cases" of the 1980s and 1990s. They included prosecutions such as the McMartin Preschool case in California in which several adults were charged with molesting dozens of children in what proved to be false accusations.

Robbery: Mistaken eyewitness identification was found in 80 percent of those exonerations.

Gross and Shaffer said the justice system needs to be more careful that mistakes are not made on the front end, and more open to genuine evidence of innocence post conviction. Alabama's attorney general, however, said the courts provide sufficient safeguards to correct genuine mistakes.

"The courts remain open to considering strong evidence of actual innocence," Strange said. "Oftentimes, post conviction courts are flooded with weak theories of innocence rather than actual evidence supporting innocence."

Jefferson County

Here are the cases of five men convicted in Jefferson County Circuit Court who are listed in a new national registry of exonerations:

Freddie Lee Gaines: Charged in a 1973 double homicide, he was acquitted in one death and convicted in the other. Gaines was released for good behavior after 11 years in prison. Five years later, in 1990, another man confessed to the crimes. Gaines received $1 million in state compensation, but was not pardoned until 2005.

Dale and Ronnie Mahan: Convicted of a 1984 kidnapping and rape, Dale was sentenced in Bessemer to 35 years and Ronnie received life without parole as a habitual offender. They were released after nearly 14 years when testing that was not available before trial showed they did not leave DNA found on the victim. She still maintained she was attacked by two men, but admitted she had sex with a man other than her husband earlier that day.

Louis Griffin: After his arrest on federal racketeering charges, the New York street gang member took credit for a 1992 drug-debt slaying in Birmingham. But when he and another man went on trial in Birmingham in 1997, Griffin said he made it all up to get a lighter sentence in his federal case. Both men were convicted, with Griffin getting a death sentence and the other man a life term. Griffin won a new trial in 2000 and was acquitted in 2001, but went to federal prison for the racketeering case.

Wesley Quick: Charged in the 1995 shooting deaths of two teens near Pinson, his first prosecution ended in mistrial due to juror misconduct. He was convicted and sentenced to death in 1997, but won a new trial and was acquitted in 2003. The trial judge then sentenced Quick to 76 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to three burglaries, including one in which the murder weapon was stolen.   

Friday, May 18, 2012

GESTAPO ALERT Etowah County compliance sweep

Again with the catchphrases. "Its for the children (tm)." Hitler did it "for the children" too, you know.

Authorities verify Etowah County sex offenders’ residences

By Lisa Rogers
Times Staff Writer
Published: Thursday, May 17, 2012 at 10:07 p.m.

It’s for the safety of the children.

Sex Offender Verification Roundup
Gadsden Police Chief John Crane said a sex-offender compliance check is an important measure in verifying the location of convicted sex offenders in Etowah County.

More than two dozen law enforcement officers from several agencies spent Wednesday and Thursday verifying the locations of 178 convicted sex offenders living in Etowah County.

Of the 178, only one was not verified.

Not only does he share the Hitler philosophy,
he has the matching mustache. 
It’s for the protection of the children,” Crane said of the sex-offender checks. “We need to know who’s out there and where they are at.”

Crane said working with the different agencies, including the Etowah County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Marshals Service, Alabama Bureau of Investigation, FBI, ATF, state probation and several municipalities, makes an operation like this one successful.

“This is what can be accomplished when we work as a team,” he said.

The officers worked in teams of two and filled out a verification form for each person registered in the county.

“This is the meat and potatoes of what we’re doing,” James Nolan, an agent with the U.S. Marshals Service, told the officers about the verification form as he explained the laws and the necessary paperwork required in the compliance checks.

“Slow down and think about what we’re doing,” he said. “If you make contact with the offender and they are in compliance, you are pretty much done.”

COMMENT: Remember when the US Marshals were called in for drug cartels and violent situations? Today, their job consists of harassing people at home to see if they are on the useless registry. 
He said it’s important for the officers to get a look inside the house. “If they don’t to let you go in, there’s probably something going on that they don’t want you to know about,” he said. There also is a law which makes it a felony to harbor a sex offender. He said even if all the sex offenders are found and verified, that does not mean they are in compliance, such as living in a house with children. Of the 177 verified, 154 were in compliance and 23 were not. Two offenders had died and three were in jail.
COMMENT: Did you catch that? Now if you don't allow them into your home you are automatically suspected of wrongdoing. 
By Thursday afternoon, a few of the sex offenders verified were found not to be in compliance, Sheriff Todd Entrekin said. He said the sheriff’s office verifies the residence of registered sex offenders monthly, but the unified effort sends a strong message that sex offenders living in Etowah County must stay in compliance or pay the consequences. “It’s important to keep a close eye on sex offenders,” Entrekin said.
COMMENT:  Monthly? They must have nothing better to do in Gadsden County. 
Sheriff Todd Entrekin

Entrekin said he believes by checking the sex offenders more often, there will be more accountability. “Nowhere in the law ... says we can check them too many times,” he said. Entrekin said most of the time, someone convicted of a sex crime against a child will re-offend. That’s why it is so important to keep track of convicted sex offenders, he said.
COMMENT: The sheriff is a full-blown idiot. Again with the "most will re-offend crap. That is a bold-faced lie, as statistics have proven consistently that recidivism rates are extremely low, but the registry has NO impact on recidivism.
Feel free to CONTACT THE SHERIFF and give this clown an education:
Sheriff Todd Entrekin Email: -- Phone: 256-546-2825
Here is the Gadsden city PD info, and they even have a handy page for filing a complaint against them. How nice!
Mailing Address: 90 Broad St., Gadsden, AL 35904 Phone: (256) 549-4500 Fax: (256) 549-4547