Stories posted are written by National news Journalists, not by this blog
Our Blog Tips

Sex Offenders Gathered Together on Halloween

11-1-2006 Texas:

.They're men convicted of the most heinous crimes. "Aggravated sexual assault of my daughters," in the case of Robert Thompson. But registered sex offenders are spending this Halloween, under watchful eyes.

"We know for four hours they're not going to be out in the community, they're not going to be around children," says Supervising Probation Officer Tom Aycock. Instead of finding sex offenders, this year, probation officers had the sex offenders find them.

"Last year when we went around, even with the help of local pd, it was a hit and miss basis. Sometimes, we could find them, sometimes, we could not," says Aycock. Most of the more than 200 registered sex offenders who checked in at the Hidalgo County Courthouse hid their faces.

But like Thompson, who maintains his innocence, they made it clear they didn't want to be here. "They know from last year that nobody goes anywhere. Where would you be if you weren't here? At home. I crochet," says Thompson.

Juan Arriegas is the exception. "I volunteered to be here," he says. Convicted of sexually assaulting his wife, Arriegas isn't required to check in. In Hidalgo County, this treatment is set aside, specifically for those convicted of assaulting children. But Arriegas knows Halloween is a difficult time for sex offenders. And though he knows he behaves himself, he doesn't want anyone else to think otherwise.

"Being here is like having an alibi," he says. And, like it or not, Aycock says the program works. "By bringing all of these individuals, we have nearly 100 percent compliance, almost 100 percent have come in," he says. ..more.. : by Andrea Conklin

LOCKED DOWN AT HOME: Prisoners for the holidays

12-6-2004 Texas:

Some treated as sex offenders despite absence of convictions
.A holiday known for feasting around crowded tables found Raymond Young feeling empty and alone, confined to his house for Thanksgiving. "I couldn't go spend no time at all with nobody in my family," Young said last week. "I had to sit at home all day. My wife went to visit her family, but I had to stay at home." Young and 560 other Texas prison parolees in Harris County were ordered to remain at their residences throughout the Thanksgiving weekend — from 5 p.m. Nov. 24 until time to go to work Nov. 29 — under a "sex offender lockdown," said Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials.

But lawyer Bill Habern, who specializes in parole matters, said some of those confined to their homes over the extended Thanksgiving weekend — including Young — have no sex crimes on their records. "We've had a surprising number of people call that have no conviction for a sex offense," Habern said. "We think the constitutionality of it in many cases is subject to serious question." Policies that include confining sex offenders to their homes on certain holidays dramatically reduce the number of rearrests of parolees, said Bryan Collier, director of the parole division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

"We have seen our warrant numbers on our sex offenders drop significantly this past year," Collier said. Collier said 3,910 people classified as sex offenders are under parole supervision in Texas. Of that number, he estimated that "probably less than 100" do not have sex offense convictions. In such cases, he said, the parole board notices "something in their criminal background that looks funny" and requires a sex offender evaluation as a condition of parole. ... ...

Although the program in Harris County was referred to on documents issued to parolees as "Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend Sex Offender Lockdown," Collier said the term "lockdown," as used by parole officials, refers to parolees on electronic monitoring. "And we're telling them, 'Don't go out of the house, period. You're on lockdown.' "

Lawyer David O'Neill, who practices with Habern, said he has talked with several men who have no sex convictions and "are complaining that they're prisoners over the holidays." He described typical circumstances, similar to Young's situation: "They get into the system on a burglary or a drug case and they go to parole them out, and somebody in parole looks at their file and sees, 'Oh, this guy was arrested 15 years ago on an allegation of a sex offense. It was dismissed, but we're going to put him on the sex offender supervision rolls,' " he said. "Then everything takes off after that — sex offender therapy, then these notices come out about the holidays and they get roped into that, as well. It's absurd." ..more.. : by Thom Marshall

No comments: