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

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A look at how police keep track of sex offenders

The real headline is how Alabama harasses people needlessly:

A look at how police keep track of sex offenders
Updated: Wednesday, 16 May 2012, 4:59 PM CDT
Published : Tuesday, 15 May 2012, 5:15 PM CDT

Paige Malone
MOBILE COUNTY, Ala. (WALA) - Once a person is convicted as a sex offender the label dictates where they live, work and who they live with.

But, how do we know they are obeying the law?

FOX10 News reporter Paige Malone rode along with the Mobile County Sheriff's Office to find out.

Paul Uffmann spent Tuesday knocking on doors and ringing door bells. He was checking on sex offenders.

Some of those on his list include two men convicted of sex crimes where the victim was less than 4 years old. 

Uffmann is part of the volunteer corps, a group of deputized volunteers that help the sheriff’s office with tasks such as this.

Sheriff Sam Cochran says it saves the county money and countless man hours.

As a sex offender, you have a restricted lifestyle, and you have to register where you live and other personal information to make sure you are following the law.

Uffmann asks the sex offender to verify the information they have and talks to neighbors to get a second verification.

In one case, the sex offender was not living where they had registered. The woman at the house said it is because a 7-month-old child was now staying at the home. Uffman notes this and reports it to the deputy in charge.

Because the V-corps come unannounced, it’s not uncommon the offender won’t be home. In that situation, a piece of paper is left behind telling the offender to contact the sheriff’s office as soon as possible.

"We want to make sure they know were contacting them that we are doing what is required by law and we want to make sure they live there so they'll call us back within 5 days," Said Uffmann.

The V-Corps also lets neighbors know when a sex offender moves into a neighborhood.

"Well check with the neighbors and say look can you helps us? Will you let us know if you see any children around this house or will you let us know if this sex offender moves from the neighborhood or if you see something that appears to be improper?” said Cochran.

Cochran says these tips are a big part of keeping sex offenders away from possible victims.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Vague law leads to arrest- anti-loitering law

The law banning registrants has become vague and broadly applied. I think it is time to fight this unconstitutional law:

Marion sex offender arrested at ballgame

By: Richelle Bailey | Media General News Service 
Published: May 02, 2012
MARION -- A ballgame turned out to be anything but fun and games for a registered sex offender Friday.

Lt. David Marler of the McDowell County Sheriff's Office arrested Christopher ***** Patrick, 27, of **** in Marion at Maple Leaf sports complex and charged him with a felony sex offender law violation (being in an area where children gather).

Capt. Ricky Crisp said Marler received information from an anonymous caller that Patrick was at the ballpark, watching his son play.

The lieutenant went to Maple Leaf, found Patrick and arrested him there at 6:15 p.m.
Patrick was convicted in McDowell County in January 2004 of two counts of taking indecent liberties with a child. He was sentenced to one year and eight months in prison followed by 3 1/2 years on probation.

Crisp stated that Maple Leaf is considered a county park and, by law, registered sex offenders aren't allowed there because it's a place children frequent.