Sunday, September 20, 2009

How many victims?

The other day Larry King was interviewing Dr. Phil and several other people about the Garrido case. And Dr Phil Said "The question on everybody's mind is Philip Garrido involved in some of the other disappearances that we've been talking about tonight. Dan Simon, you've been in Antioch. You've been all over this. Experts that follow these things with pedophiles and sexual offenders tell us that the average sexual offender can have anywhere 100 to 400 victims throughout their lifetime. So the fact that Philip Garrido has been tied to one that we know of and a violent rape before leaves an awful lot of concern that there are other victims out there. What does law enforcement think about this?" Dan Simon was a guest from law enforcement also on the show. Now I have heard others makes similar claims. That one reason we have to be so tough on Sex Offenders is they have so many victims. I haven't come across any studies that have supported this claim. Does anyone reading this know of a study that does support this claim of a high number of victims?
Let's take a minute and look at the numbers. There are over 650,000 registered former offenders. I've heard numbers putting the registry numbers at over 700,000. But for now lets just use the 650,000, figure, if each person on the registry each had 100 victims that would mean there are 65,000,000 victims of sexual abuse. And at 400 each that numbers come out to 260,000,000. Say the words two hundred and sixty MILLION potentional victims of sexual abuse! As of July 2006 the population of the United States is 304,059,724. If the numbers being quoted by the media and politicians are true then almost every person in the United States has been molested by someone already on the registry. And what about the new cases being reported? Over 86% of cases reported are new offenders, people not already on the sex offender registry. Lets look at another fact that is often touted out when you hear these 'experts' talking. Sexual abuse is very under reported. If so how do the numbers add up? On the ARC radio show, with Ron Book as the guest, one caller countered those very myths by saying "If at the rate the media is claiming, children are being victimized. We would be knee high deep in this country, in the bodies of dead & abused children."

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Article mentions Shirley Turner whose son was slain by a vigilante

The mother of one of the people killed in the vigilante murders here in Maine in 2006 is profiled here. It's a sad and horrible story. Shirley Turner is one woman I would love to meet someday. I hope she knows that there are people who do care about what happened to her son and we are fighting to help make sure it never happens again.

September 3, 2009

A sad lesson in ‘know thy neighbor’

Megan’s Law did not protect Jaycee Dugard. It helped create ghettos of abuse – and would do

Link here

Shirley Turner’s son was not a child rapist. He was a teenage boy madly in love with his girlfriend and three weeks before her 16th birthday they could wait no longer and made love in her bedroom while her parents were out at the movies. When her father returned and discovered them, he reported William to the police. He was charged with statutory rape, convicted, sent to jail and on his release his name was added to the sex offenders register under the version of Megan’s Law applied in his home state of Maine.

Shirley Turner’s stepfather, Brian, was a child rapist. He raped her at the age of 5. As Shirley approached her teens, her mother grew jealous of her husband’s apparent “preference” for her daughter. When she was 15, Brian took off, dragging Shirley with him and forcing her into marriage. William was her only child, fathered by her rapist.

When Stephen Marshall, a vigilante, started surfing Maine’s sex offenders register for child molesters to kill, it was William’s name he found, not Brian’s. Brian was never registered because Shirley never reported the crimes of the stepfather who became her husband. William is now dead, along with a more conventionally guilty paedophile in his town, both shot by Marshall. Brian is in jail, to Shirley’s relief, not for sex offences, but for attempting to murder her when she finally fled.

This was the tortured narrative I came across in Milo, northern Maine, in 2006, while looking for evidence of whether or not Megan’s Law worked. Shirley, a haunted shadow of a woman, wept warm tears on me as she told of the loss of her beloved son. She was one of the few people I connected with in this unsettling backwater where jaunty Stars and Stripes flying from clapboard houses disguised an underside of pure American Gothic.

I thought of Milo this week reading the latest soul-polluting details of the Jaycee Dugard case in Antioch, California, a place where the local Megan’s Law register recorded more than 100 registered sex offenders living in Phillip Garrido’s Zip code. In the small town of Milo, there were 42.

Jennifer Kale, the young mother who lived next door to Marshall’s second victim, had no idea she had a sex offender for a neighbour, despite having checked the register. She didn’t recognise the mug shot because she had never met him. “When I was little there was always some weird guy that your parents said to stay away from,” she said.

“You sort of knew. But it’s different now. Then you knew everyone but that’s all changed. You don’t know anyone anymore.”

Milo owes a number of its sex offenders to the introduction of Megan’s Law in neighbouring Massachusetts in 1999, three years before it was adopted in Maine. To escape registration there, many decamped north to Maine. Now Megan’s Law has been enacted across the United States, the migration has not stopped. Campaigners against the law argue it has driven many offenders underground or into hiding in plain sight; permanently transient to avoid registration or transplanting to neighbourhoods of the criminal underclasses where everyone minds their own business.

Garrido’s is such a neighbourhood, it is now emerging, where his neighbours built crack dens in their backyards and ignored the voices of children from the home of a man registered as a sex offender. Even there he was known as “Creepy Phil”. Megan’s Law did not exist when Jaycee was snatched but it would not have saved her. The Garridos travelled 150 miles to snatch her from her local bus stop. No internet search could have predicted that. Only one person ever reported the presence of children to the police, despite most neighbours admitting they knew that children lived there and that Garrido was on the register.

Every time a horrific child sex crime takes place in Britain, voices are raised in support of our own Megan’s Law. And yet there is no evidence that such a law has done anything to lower the level of child abuse. A 2008 federal-funded survey conducted in New Jersey, where Megan’s Law originated, concluded it had done nothing to deter the repeat offenders it is designed to target. It only made them easier to track down when they had reoffended.

Megan’s mother still defends the law named for her murdered daughter, saying she never intended it to deter offenders, only to “raise awareness”. But a register is a knee- jerk response to the cry of “something must be done,” and that done, we are all too happy to do nothing more. If a sex offender lives on our street, Megan’s Law gives us the means to hound them out to somewhere else — where they can prey on someone else’s kids.

If it corrals them into ghettos to escape us, so much the better. At least it keeps them off our street. Job done, there is no need for us to look out for the other children in our “community” or bother to check why someone else’s young girls are playing in the creepy man’s yard.

Meanwhile, most of the abuse goes on where it always has: in homes like Shirley Turner’s, where neighbours fear to tread. Megan’s Law satisfies our desire to do something, and fast. And it saves us from facing the awful truth that we don’t know who our neighbours are, and as long as they don’t bother us, most of us don’t care.

Catherine Philp is diplomatic correspondent of The Times

Friday, September 18, 2009

We have a mailing address now!

Today I set up CFC Maine's very own post office box. I can be reached by writing me at Citizen's For Change Maine or CFC ME, PO Box 611, Bridgton, Maine 04009. This means we can start our letter writing campaign and have a valid address to be reached at for those that do not have access to the internet. Thanks to those who gave so generously at our first meeting. Their donations allowed us to pay for the mailbox and we have purchased some stamps to get started. To anyone else who would like to assist us with the letter campaign donations of stamps would be greatly appreciated. Also I am looking for suggestions on how to write a letter, to be sent out to those on the registry and their families, that would gain their trust and that would motivate them to get involved. Has anyone else sent out letters in the past? What worked and what didn't? Looking forward to hearing from you all.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

CFC Maine mentioned in article

State law set to change city's sex offender ordinance
Please feel free to leave comments

Westbrook police Detective Dan Violette says there's a reason the number of sex offenders living and working in the city hasn't changed much in the past two years.

Since the City Council adopted one of the strictest ordinances in the state prohibiting registered sex offenders from living or working in most of the city, Violette has had to force people out of their new apartments and make them quit their jobs.

According to the detective, who said he spends about 25 percent of his work week keeping track of sex offenders in the city, about 37 registered sex offenders live in Westbrook and an additional 16 work there.

"The number hasn't fluctuated very much," Violette said.

But that could change when a new state law goes into effect Saturday, nullifying Westbrook's ordinance.

The City Council will vote Monday on whether to adopt the state's new maximum allowable restrictions on where sex offenders can live. If passed, the 2,500-foot buffer zones around all places children frequent will be replaced with 750-foot restricted areas just around schools. And that only covers residency. The state law says that towns and cities cannot restrict where sex offenders can work.

In a gesture showing their disapproval of the state law, Gorham town councilors last week refused to change the town's restrictive ordinance in order to comply. However, it's still in question what the town's police department will be able to enforce once the law goes into effect.

Though Violette said he'll still spend the same amount of time monitoring sex offenders in the city and notifying neighbors and employers of their whereabouts, the state law takes away some of his authority over sex offenders and a safeguard for Westbrook children.

"It's given me more tools to help make sure sex offenders were in compliance," he said about the old law.


There are no demographics that encompass all sex offenders, Violette said, but because a lot of employers don't want to hire registered sex offenders, many, regardless of their backgrounds and skills, don't have steady sources of income.

"You're a convicted felon. That makes you ineligible to work in a lot of places," Violette said.

Because of that, he believes the amount of low-income housing in Westbrook draws more sex offenders. Though Portland is probably the most attractive city in the area for jobless sex offenders because of its shelters and support services, he said, "we're ripe for the picking as far as increasing our numbers."

However, some say that keeping people out of jobs and homes because of their sex offender status is unconstitutional.

Jane Cantral, who runs Maine Citizens for Change - a local affiliate of the national group Reform Sex Offender Laws - said she and her boyfriend Calvin Shelton, a registered sex offender, didn't have an easy time finding a home in this area of the state.

"We're trying to buy a house and we're looking at maps," said Cantral, a Bridgton resident who was herself the victim of a sex offender.

"It sounds good as a knee-jerk reaction, but if you really thought about it, how much sense does it make?" Cantral said.

She pointed to the fact that students are not in school at night, when most sex offenders are in their homes. She also noted that kids are better looked after in schools and day cares than they are the rest of the day.

"I don't think residency restrictions are needed at all," she said.

Cantral hopes that more efforts will be made on educating parents and children and treating sex offenders rather than on making local or state laws that she believes are ineffective.


But success is measured in different ways when it comes to sex offender laws.

Violette said he scans the state's sex offender registry about once a week to see if there are any new registered sex offenders living or working in Westbrook. During the past two years, he said, he's had to ask about a dozen people to leave their jobs, usually because of their proximity to day cares. Though he's gotten mixed reactions from employers - some thank Violette for making them aware of the charges, others would rather to keep the workers regardless of them - the sex offenders themselves tend to comply quickly.

"Almost every time, they quit right way," he said.

Other than the case of one registered sex offender Violette had to repeatedly chase out of a Spring Street apartment, he said the same willingness to obey the ordinance was true of sex offenders trying to move to the city. He said he's had to turn down about five or six sex offenders who tried to move into restricted areas of the city from out of town and another half-dozen who wanted to move within Westbrook.

Overall, Violette estimated that about 20 additional sex offenders would be living or working in the city today if it weren't for the ordinance.

"It was working," he said.


One woman who was an outspoken advocate of the Westbrook ordinance when it was adopted said she plans to speak up again at the council meeting Monday.

Jen Wescott, who has two family members that were sex crime victims, said even with the ordinance in place, as a mother and a day care owner, she's on constant alert, keeping an eye on who's around. The city's law offered extra protection.

"It gives you a little more sense of security," Wescott said.

But creating a false sense of security is one of the arguments opponents have against residency restrictions.

"They have a tendency to drive offenders underground," Sen. Anne Haskell, D-Portland, who sponsored the bill, said in June, when the law was passed. "Then you don't know where they are, which is a more dangerous situation."

Those who support less-stringent residency resrictions say the vast majority of sex crimes are committed by people known to the victims - which was the case with Wescott's family members and with Cantral, as well.

While Cantral argues that over-reaching restrictions violate the rights of former criminals who have paid their debts to society, Wescott and Violette both believe that additional protection against sex offenders can only help to keep kids safer.

"Any buffer you put between a sex offender and our vulnerable children, I think that's a good thing," Violette said.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

CFC Maine Meets

We are having our first planning session for CFC Maine next Saturday September 12th at 10:30am in Gorham. We will be discussing and setting forth our goals for the upcoming year. If I haven't contacted you about this meeting yet please consider attending. We want everyone interested in promoting change to RFSO laws to join us. RFSOs, family members and the general public are all invited. There are many jobs that can be done without being in the public eye. We need to plan the best way we can exploit the current climate asking how things should change to prevent more crimes like the recent one with Kaycee. Email me at if you want more information. Hope to see you there.

One of many articles pointing out RFSO laws don't work....

America's flawed sex offender laws

The Jaycee Dugard case illustrates how America's sex offender registries hurt efforts to stop repeat sex crimes

Americans have been doing some soul-searching about our approach to monitoring convicted sex offenders since the recent discovery of Jaycee Lee Dugard. Dugard was kidnapped in California at age 11 and held captive for 18 years in Phillip Garrido's garden. He managed to hide his secret prisoner from the police even though he was a convicted rapist and his name appeared on the public sex offender registry.

In the past, news of a horrific crime committed by a convicted sex offender inevitably led to widespread calls for increasing the scope of sex offender registration and community notification laws. Over the past 15 years, the US has expanded its registration and notification schemes to include an estimated 674,000 convicted sex offenders. Some remain on the public list for the rest of their lives, regardless of the seriousness of their offence, the current threat they might pose or their progress toward rehabilitation . The effectiveness of such laws has rarely been questioned, and they enjoy widespread public support.

But this time around, there has been a different type of discussion. Rather than just calling for tougher sex offender monitoring laws, Americans are openly wondering if a new approach is needed to deal with convicted sex offenders who have re-entered the community.

Although Garrido's case is extraordinary, it illustrates the flaws in America's sex offender registration and community notification schemes. Experts in sexual violence say that placing all convicted sex offenders on a registry for life may do more harm than good. The public nature of the registry makes it nearly impossible for convicted sex offenders to re-enter the community with the kind of support system they need to reduce their likelihood of committing another offence. Low-level offenders who pose little risk to the community are monitored in the same way as high-risk offenders, diluting police resources to concentrate on those, such as Garrido, who pose a high risk of committing another offence.

Furthermore, focusing so much public attention and resources on convicted sex offenders ignores the reality of sexual violence in the United States. It is estimated that 87% of new sex crimes every year are committed by individuals without a prior sex crime conviction. And very few sex crimes move through the system – less than one-third of all reported rapes result in an arrest.

So pouring scarce resources into monitoring all convicted offenders means there is less money for programmes to prevent sexual violence and counsel victims and for the rape investigation units, rape evidence testing and other tools that could bring justice in these cases.

Because of such concerns, Human Rights Watch called in a 2007 report for a major revamping of America's sex offender laws. Registration should be limited to former offenders who have been individually assessed as dangerous, and only for as long as they pose a significant risk. Community notification should be restricted to those who genuinely can benefit from knowledge about dangerous former offenders in their midst.

Sex offender registration and community notification laws didn't cause Garrido's crimes, but they didn't help the police stop them, either. While Americans are starting to question the value of our extensive sex offender monitoring system, it remains to be seen whether these doubts will lead to real reform.

Once sex offender laws are in place, it is hard for politicians to repeal them, because they don't want to appear weak on the issue of sex offenders. If Britain wants to do more to prevent sexual violence, it should keep its sex offender registry narrowly focused, and use the savings in time, energy and resources to implement sexual violence prevention policies that will actually keep the public safe.