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alp227 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-07-10 03:18 PM
Original message
(California) Officials Allow Sex Offender to Live Near School
Edited on Sun Mar-07-10 03:20 PM by alp227
by Gerry Shih
The New York Times
March 6, 2010 (page A31)

A convicted sex offender has moved into a home across the street from Wildwood Elementary School in Piedmont, infuriating parents, who are asking school officials and the police why the 2006 state law mandating a minimum distance of 2,000 feet between schools and the residences of sex offenders is not being enforced.

But the Piedmont police, on the advice of county and state law enforcement officials, say there is nothing they can do.

On Feb. 12, James F. Donnelly, 71, a convicted sex offender, registered his new address as 256 Wildwood Avenue, where a blue-hued house overlooks Piedmont, Oaklands upscale, uphill neighbor.

Shortly after Mr. Donnelly filed his registration, Chief John Hunt of the Piedmont police realized that the house was almost directly across from the school.

--snip--

For Mr. Donnellys housing decision to be considered a violation of state law, there has to be a punishment attached, Nancy OMalley, the Alameda County district attorney, said in an interview. Jessicas Law never assigned a punishment.

Chief Hunt said: I was amazed. You have this law that was overwhelmingly voted in and determined to be constitutional, and then you find out theres no bite to it. Its all bark and no bite.

The reaction to Mr. Donnellys choice of residence has been further inflamed by the discovery this week of the body of Chelsea King, a 17-year-old San Diego honor student, and the arrest of a convicted sex offender in connection with her killing.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/07/us/07sfoffender.html?...

Sigh. Once again we have California's two-faced sex offender laws being unsatisfactory. Regarding Chelsea King, in 2000, the man accused of killing her was recommended by a psychiatrist to serve a maximum possible sentence for molesting a teenage girl. Prosecutors initially stacked charges that could've meant nearly 30 years for John Albert Gardner III, now the suspected murderer of King, but Gardner plea bargained his way to 5 years in prison + 3 years parole.

Last week, Assemblymember Norma Torres (D-Pomona) introduced Assembly Bill 2208, which would ban sex offenders from using social networking websites. Kamala Harris, district attorney for San Francisco County, co-sponsored AB2208.

How much good does it do for communities for a justice system that treats drug offenders far worse than sex offenders? Late last month, a SWAT team raided a house in plain sight of a woman and her 7-year-old son just to find a small amount of marijuana. The SWAT officers shot two family pets. Child's parents were charged with child endangerment. Notice something wrong with this picture? Especially with the fact that current law doesn't provide life sentences for child porn possessors but does for cocaine traffickers (such as Freeway Ricky Ross)?

Here are a couple ACLU articles about the problems with sex offender laws: "Why Sex Offender Laws Do More Harm Than Good" by Deborah Jacobs, executive director of ACLU New Jersey, and "Sex Offender Law Violates Rights, Puts Kids At Risk" by John Hardenbergh of the ACLU legislative office in Washington, DC. I feel that people whose prison time/parole/probation have expired are entitled to their full civil liberties when living in society normally. Laws like Jessica's Law probably are cruel and unusual punishment for people who've already served their punishments behind bars, and I wonder if any 8th Amendment court cases question the constitutionality of sex offender residency restrictions. If the state feels the need to impose such restriction on sex offenders over concerns that they'll harm children, the state should increase prison time instead.
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LiberalFighter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-07-10 03:36 PM
Response to Original message
1. I wonder how these sex offender residency laws prevent the crime?
What keeps sex offenders from visiting off limit places even though they don't live there?
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MadHound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-07-10 03:46 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. It doesn't, it is simply serves two purposes,
Edited on Sun Mar-07-10 03:46 PM by MadHound
One is it provides the charade that the state is actually doing something about sex offenders after they have served their time.

Two, it provide a means to continue to punish sex offenders after they have done their time, no matter how severe their crime was. Imagine being forced to live apart from your family and friends under a bridge because it is the only place that is outside the various legal limits that are attached to sex offenders. Imagine doing this for the rest of your life because you were drunk and got caught pissing in the alley, seen by some child. Or that you, at the age of seventeen or eighteen did the natural thing and had consensual sex with your sixteen year old girlfriend.

Many sex offender restrictions are simply public placebos, worse yet, ongoing punishment after the time is done. Some of them even lead to vigilante, mob justice being taken against an innocent man.

If you can't trust a person to control themselves outside of prison, then don't let them out. Once you do, and they have fulfilled their sentence, leave them alone, they've paid their price.
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alp227 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-07-10 03:52 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. "If you can't trust a person to control themselves outside of prison, then don't let them out." +1
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slackmaster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-07-10 03:54 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. I emphatically agree with everything in MadHound's reply
Especially:

If you can't trust a person to control themselves outside of prison, then don't let them out.
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OneTenthofOnePercent Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-07-10 04:24 PM
Response to Reply #3
6. Super +1 n/t
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NYC_SKP Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-07-10 03:43 PM
Response to Original message
2. Hmm. That's the same address as Patricia McCaffrey, MFT. (Marriage & Family Therapist)
McCaffrey Patricia MFT
Address:‎
256 Wildwood Avenue
Piedmont, CA 94610-1102

Get Directions
(510) 836-4432

Per Google Map. You see an icon for her at that very address.

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&source=s_d&saddr=256+Wi... (Piedmont+Unified+School+District :+Wildwood+Elementary)&hl=en&geocode=FfASQQIdndS2-CkLXoX0ZYePgDEYFbR-JQn5yQ%3BFaEQQQIdkM22-CHQlS8nbu2KAim9CPzwZYePgDEMUEvnwIulag&gl=us&mra=ls&sll=37.819429,-122.237556&sspn=0.009391,0.01929&ie=UTF8&ll=37.819379,-122.23592&spn=0.002365,0.004823&z=18&iwloc=lyrftr:m,12027814514759937207,37.819073,-122.235716

:shrug:

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Flaneur Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-07-10 04:25 PM
Response to Reply #2
7. What is your purpose in publicly identifying this person?
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NYC_SKP Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-07-10 04:38 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. Purpose? Discussion, I suppose. Google and the NYT are "publicly identifying" people.
Do you think when her name is right there on the fucking Google Map for all the universe to see, it's ME that is "publicly identifying" her to, what, 1/100,000 of 1% of the US population on this board.

That's funny.
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Flaneur Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-07-10 05:11 PM
Response to Reply #8
13. Okay, what's to discuss about this person?
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NYC_SKP Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-07-10 05:55 PM
Response to Reply #13
16. Upon re-reading the article, I find that the Ms McCaffrey is the Offender's sister.
But I hadn't noticed that item before.

But for that detail, I thought it interesting that a professional therapist's address might be the address of the offender.

It would be worth finding out if, for example, this person was being allowed to live with their therapist while looking for a permanent residence.

Without passing judgment, that would be a discussion worthy question.

Given that she is his brother, it's less untoward, but still interesting.

It's good of her to give comfort to her brother, I think.
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Politicalboi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-07-10 04:40 PM
Response to Original message
9. Another reason to give
Life sentences for these monsters. I don't care if they served their "time". The crime these scumbags commit against children last a LIFE time. Let them rot in jail.
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Politicalboi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-07-10 04:41 PM
Response to Original message
10. Double post self delete
Edited on Sun Mar-07-10 04:54 PM by Politicalboi
What I said in my other post was for known sex offenders against children. Not for the average Joe's who get caught with their wang out taking a piss.
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howard112211 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-07-10 04:58 PM
Response to Original message
11. It doesn't say what the crime of the sex offender was. Would be interesting.
I wouldn't put it past one of those "concerned parents rings" to go all apeshit even it the guy in question was a statutory rape case of 19 with 17.
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alp227 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-07-10 06:32 PM
Response to Reply #11
18. in the article, it says that the man was convicted of possessing child porn. eom
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Lyric Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-07-10 05:04 PM
Response to Original message
12. I really hate threads like this. *sigh*
I suppose I could just stay away, but I'm always hoping that maybe someone will stop and really THINK about my point of view before knee-jerk reacting to it.

Here's the deal--I don't think that "possession" of child pornography should be illegal in and of itself. Now before you go getting all OMFGOUTRAGED!!!11, hear me out? I fully support all laws and penalties against making it, seeking it, selling it, and buying it. However, merely "possessing" it is incredibly vague, and I know (based on what happened to a gay male friend of mine) that "possession" is not always what it appears to be, and the law doesn't do enough to distinguish between possessing it for an "evil" purpose and possessing it for a benign purpose. And yes, there ARE benign purposes.

My friend Will is a registered sex offender because he was convicted of the SAME charge as the guy in the article above--possession of child pornography. Is he a nasty pedophile pervert? Nope. He had broken up with his boyfriend, and three days later his boyfriend sent him an e-mail from a random Hotmail account with a child pornography image inside of it. Not knowing what it was, Will opened the e-mail and was horrified when he saw what was in it. He suspected his ex and printed out the entire e-mail (header info plus the attached image) and took it straight to the police. When he got to the station and handed it over, he was questioned and then arrested...for possession of child pornography.

When his case went to trial, the prosecutors were fucking assholes. They brought up his sexual orientation (knowing how that would prejudice the jurors) and scoffed at his "claims" that he received the image as an unwanted e-mail. They implied that Will had e-mailed the image to HIMSELF to try and frame his ex--and the fact that it came from a different IP address than Will's was ignored. They told the jury that even if he really HAD received it innocently, he'd broken the law when he'd printed out the e-mail--technically, at that moment, he was "in possession" of child porn, and his intentions didn't matter. The jurors found him guilty...we've never known whether they disbelieved his story, or whether they just didn't care so long as they could stick it to another gay "pedophile." (All of this happened right around the time that the worst of the Catholic pedophile scandal was going on, when the Vatican was blaming gays right and left for what was really the work of sick priests.)

Although Will was convicted, the judge himself seemed to believe Will's story. He said right in court that he just couldn't believe that someone would walk right into a police station with child porn for any other reason than an honest one, but there wasn't much he could do. He was in charge of sentencing, and did what he could--he suspended all of Will's sentence, and let him go free. But the worst damage was already done. Will has to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

Will and I worked together at a little community grocery store (as cashiers) and about a year after all this happened, this evil bitch came barging into the store and demanded to speak to the manager. She lived two blocks down and had always HATED Will because he was obviously gay. Anyway, she held up a printout from West Virginia's sex offender registry with Will's photograph and information, and screamed to everyone in the store that "this place harbors sick, homosexual child molesters!" She threw a monumental fit, and our GM wound up throwing her out and forbidding her from coming back, but she made it a point to sneak over every few nights and tape copies of that printout on the doors and windows of the store. The manager refused to fire Will because he knew Will was being unfairly harassed, but Will was DEVASTATED. Eventually he quit out of guilt because his presence was affecting the store's reputation, and he couldn't bear to see anyone else lose a job because sales declined. (Incidentally, sales DID decline even after Will left, and the store eventually had to close--we all lost our jobs.) Rhythm and I held him night after night after night while he cried, and a year later, he tried to kill himself. Thank god, he didn't succeed.

He had to drop out of college because he was being harassed constantly. Right now he's working at a small bookstore. He's grown a thick beard and moustache, and he's dreading the day when he has to go back in and get his photo updated. He can't get an apartment. He can't ever go see his nieces at their school plays again. He's terrified to date, because everyone Googles everyone now, and he's been branded a sicko pedophile pervert for life. He's been stalked, harassed, and threatened--and the cops don't care, because they either don't know the details or don't believe him, and nobody REALLY cares what happens to a "sex offender." Every single day is lived in terror that someone will recognize him and he'll lose yet another job--because although his managers are understanding, they can't sacrifice their businesses once the witch-hunters smell blood and start screaming about a "SEX OFFENDER!" working there.

Will's life is ruined--and I mean RUINED--all because simple possession of child pornography, no matter WHAT the purpose, is illegal. Look how incredibly easy it is to frame someone! You could mail a kiddie porn tape to someone's house, call in an anonymous tip, and BAM--life ruined forever. You can send it to someone from an anonymous e-mail account that you created at a public Wi-fi spot, then call in a tip--or wait for them to make the mistake of trying to report it--and BAM. Life ruined. I've seen it happen.

Like I said--I'm ALL for keeping it illegal to make it, buy it, sell it, solicit it, distribute it, or otherwise seek it out intentionally. THOSE laws are the ones that catch the "bad guys" without snaring the innocent people by mistake. But simply having it in your hands (or e-mail inbox, or post office box?) No way. It's too easy to set someone up and abuse this statute. Innocent people are being victimized FOR LIFE by this law. Who the hell is ever going to believe you when the subject is child porn? How many of YOU live in mortal terror that you might accidentally click a link that turns out to be child porn, and when you are IP-tracked, the cops won't believe that it was a mistake? I'm here to tell you, folks--it DOES happen.

We need to get rid of simple possession as a crime, period. If we don't, then the easiest way in the world to ruin the life of someone you HATE would be to drop a child porn image into their mailbox. Or inbox. Or dresser drawer. Don't think it couldn't happen to you.
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howard112211 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-07-10 05:17 PM
Response to Reply #12
14. yes. but good luck with that on DU.
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Codeine Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-07-10 06:47 PM
Response to Reply #12
19. May I applaud you for this post?
A brave, nuanced, and principled stand -- well-stated and convincing. :applause: :yourock:
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Lyric Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-07-10 06:54 PM
Response to Reply #19
21. Thank you.
It's more appreciated than you know. I was expecting to get a lot of reactionary nastiness before anyone actually *thought* about my points, and (at least so far) that hasn't happened.

:)
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Jkid Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-07-10 06:50 PM
Response to Reply #12
20. I agree with you. Simple possession of child porn ought to be decriminalized.
But let's take this step further. Restrict sex offender registration for the most serious sexual offenses.

Oh wait, IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN. Because your representatives do not have the balls to resolve this injustices. But let's try anyway. You can always run for office and you can do it yourself.
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Lyric Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-07-10 07:00 PM
Response to Reply #20
22. I agree with you on your second point, too.
I think it's stupid to force a drunk guy who got caught peeing in a park at night to be on the sex offender registry. I don't think there should BE a sex offender registry, to be honest--I'd prefer much longer prison sentences for people who are considered "too dangerous" to be released back into society. That's fairer and more effective than a "registry" if the goal is public safety.

And I'm afraid I could never run for public office. I'm a lesbian with a long history of left-wing political views and organization memberships. I'm unfortunately unelectable. But I'd love to write speeches and position papers for someone who IS electable, someday. :)
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Jkid Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-07-10 07:11 PM
Response to Reply #22
23. How to run for political office
1. Moderate your campaign slogan.
2. Moderate your views in debates
3. Get elected
4. ????
5. Exceed your campaign promises while in office (HAUL ASS!)
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Liberty Belle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-07-10 10:10 PM
Response to Reply #23
26. Move to SD. Our DA is a lesbian, and this is a conservative town.
She never mentioned in her campaign of course, but it was fairly well known.
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Liberty Belle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-07-10 10:08 PM
Response to Reply #12
25. you're right. A journalist I know was convicted of possession
of child porn because he found it online and began an investigation to nail those accessing it. He was not aware that merely possessing it was a crime and now his life is ruined.

I myself once clicked a website that had been hacked, got a mesasge saying "downloading tons of porn" and had it start sending God knows what to my computer.

The law should have to prove that you knowingly downloaded it, for one, and that you viewed it, and that you had a salacious intent.
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donco6 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-07-10 10:19 PM
Response to Reply #12
27. I agree with you.
But it's impossible to take this stance with mothers clutching their babies to their breasts and fanning themselves out of an attack of vapors.

I had a straight friend give me some pictures of her two boys, playing sports, hockey and baseball. Unknown to me there was a picture of them taking a bath together. As soon as I saw it, I sent it straight into the paper shredder. As innocent as that is - and I'm sure she just thought it was a cute picture - I can't risk having anything like that around . . . EVER.

As a gay man, it's terrifying to know that I could be sent some anonymous email with child porn attached and my life could be totally ruined like your friend. I don't open ANYTHING unless I know what it is - and I hate to be paranoid. But that's the way it is.
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Lyric Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-08-10 09:14 AM
Response to Reply #27
28. In this case, the paranoia is justified.
If it saves you from going through what Will is going through, then yes, it's absolutely justified. It's terrifying. And you'd think that bright, perceptive liberals like us would see the potential for government abuse here, too. After all--if a bitter ex can ruin your life and totally separate you from society forever via this route, who's to say that a right-wing police officer (or FBI agent, or some other federal agent with a chip on his shoulder) couldn't do the same thing in order to neutralize you as a political entity?

Sure, it sounds paranoid. But like I said--justifiably paranoid, because we know that it CAN happen, and in this case, it's a faster, cheaper, and more effective way of utterly destroying someone than the old standby of planting a kilo of heroin in your house/car. I keep waiting to hear about left-wing bloggers and activists being charged with "possession of child porn." There are lefty gay bloggers out there who are particularly vulnerable to this type of attack, because so many people still believe the heinous lie that homosexuality is inherently related to pedophilia.

However, even if we put all of that aside as paranoia, the fact still remains that no law should make it so incredibly easy to frame an innocent person. A law that is THAT easy to abuse is NOT a good law. It's not serving the purpose for which it was intended. When innocent people live in fear that they might accidentally open an e-mail or click a link that could ruin their lives, then something is incredibly wrong. A society in which the innocent are afraid of the laws is a society that is no longer benign and free.
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mulsh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-07-10 05:54 PM
Response to Original message
15. Piedmont is a very small town with lots of NY Times subscribers
I'm pretty sure the local phones are burning right now. at least for those folk who are finding out about this via the Times. Why I'll bet there are even a couple of DU'ers from Piedmont.

If you look at the map and move it to the left you'll see Crofton Street, that's where I used to live, right down the hill from Wildwood Ave & school. I now live on the other side of Piedmont, off of Park Blvd.
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Fast Dude Donating Member (146 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-07-10 06:09 PM
Response to Original message
17. Thankfully the frogs and turtles are safe
:shrug:
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Liberty Belle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-07-10 10:06 PM
Response to Original message
24. If we'd just enact death penalty laws for people who rape children
on the 1st offense, many of these perverts would not be out to harm anyone else.

I am a liberal on most things, but I am all for protecting children and keeping monsters who cannot be rehabilitated off the streets.

Pare down the sex offenders list to remove people peeing in parks, or 18 year old having consensual sex with a 16 or 17 year old girlfriend.

Take the real menaces who are left, make them all wear ankle bracelets for life if they are paroled even once, and require life sentences or better yet, death if they try it again.
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