By Christopher Zoukis The Federal Bureau of Prisons incarcerates over 14,500 sex offenders within its roughly 200 facilities. This equates to approximately eight percent of the federal prison population. Increasingly, those convicted of federal sexual offenses are being housed at Sex Offender Management Program (SOMP) facilities which have a larger sex offender population and offer…

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By Prison Legal News On August 23, 2013, Robert Eugene Vasquez, 36, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the stabbing death of his neighbor, Bobby Ray Rainwater, Jr.  Vasquez had been told by his mother that Rainwater was a child molester, though actually he had been required to register…

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By Prison Legal News

The Supreme Court of Kentucky has held that a probationer’s period of probation cannot be extended to require completion of a sex offender treatment program.

Elmer David Miller was originally charged with felony first-degree unlawful transaction with a minor. He entered into a plea agreement for a misdemeanor charge of criminal attempt to commit first-degree unlawful transaction with a minor, because the victim was over the age of sixteen. The plea agreement included two years of probation and required Miller to “[a]ttend any counseling recommended by probation and parole.”

Following the recommendation of the Division of Probation and Parole, Miller enrolled in the state’s sex offender treatment program. Shortly before his period of probation ended, his probation officer informed the trial court that Miller would be unable to complete the program before the expiration of his probation term. The court then held a hearing and extended Miller’s probation until he finished the three-year sex offender treatment program.

Miller challenged the trial court’s order and the Court of Appeals reversed, holding that he had not agreed to the extension of his probation and, in fact, had opposed it at the hearing. The appellate court remanded the case for a determination of whether Miller’s term of probation should have been allowed to expire or should have been revoked for his failure to complete the treatment program. See: Miller v. Commonwealth of Kentucky, 2010 Ky. App. Unpub. LEXIS 1001 (Ky. Ct. App. 2010).

On discretionary review by the Kentucky Supreme Court, the state agreed that the Court of Appeals was correct in concluding Miller’s term of probation could not be extended. The Court concurred, stating the statutory two-year period for misdemeanors is an “absolute limit, absent some overriding statute or waiver by the defendant,” neither of which applied in this case.

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Dianne Frazee-Walker  

Venturing far into the swamp lands of southern Florida, alligators lazily crawl through murky irrigation waterways and sugar cane lines the marshy fields. Further down the muddy road, old plantation flats border the homestead grounds.

Prior to the 60s the dwellings were used to house seasonal Caribbean sugar cane workers. Eventually, modern machinery replaced human laborers and the plantations deteriorated.  

Today, plantation workers harvesting sugar cane are a memory of the past. The area is now known as Miracle Village, tucked-in miles away from the closest town, Pahokee.  

The name Miracle Village is a reminder of a tranquil country retreat, but in 2009 the Christian non-profit organization — Mathew 25 Ministries — transformed the abandoned, rat-infested plantation into housing for sex offenders released from prison.

Last head count, according to Pat Powers, executive director of Miracle Village, the grounds housed 155 sex offenders.

It’s an even trade. The residents maintain the lawns and houses in return for the opportunity to live in a supportive community, minus ceaseless shame for being a registered sex offender. 

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By Dianne Frazee-Walker

The scary things of Halloween such as, ghosts, goblins and razor blade ridden apples are now in the past. In today’s world parents and children have a new set of haunting concerns.

Last Thursday evening as the sun was setting children emerged into neighborhoods questing for ‘tricks or treats.” Homes were inventively decorated with carved jack-o-lanterns and orange lights strung randomly around windowsills. Children dressed in costumes ran down sidewalks, anticipating what treats awaited them at the next house.

But wait….what is this? The house is dark, not a light on in the house. It almost looks haunted. There is a sign in the yard and it is not part of the Halloween décor. The sign reads, “No candy or treats at this residence.” This appears to be the scariest house on the street.

The Los Angeles Times reports that under a southern California ordinance created by Girard Mayor James Melfi, called the Girard Law, sex offenders were barred from putting up Halloween displays and outside lighting. Offenders listed on the Megan’s Law website were required to post a sign in front of their house that gives children the message there will be no candy handed out here.

A small group of Simi Valley registered sex-offenders protested the law because the policy is discriminatory and infringing on their personal rights to participate in a customary holiday. According to Attorney and president of the California Reform Sex Offender Laws group, Janice Bellucci, who represented the five sex offenders in the suit, the law reeks of discrimination and is reminiscent of when Nazis made Jews wear yellow stars. The city was sued for encroaching on offenders’ freedom of speech and ordered to remove the signs.

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By Aaron C. Davis

Maryland officials in recent weeks quietly removed the mug  shot of convicted child molester Robert M. Haines Jr. from the state’s  sex-offender registry.

They also deleted the Internet link to the former  middle school teacher’s guilty plea to charges he abused a 13-year-old student  decades ago. Haines’s physical description, the address of the cottage he lives  in near Annapolis, the make and model of the car he drives: Everything the state  had tracked for years to keep him from anonymity was erased.

Haines was  removed not because he was exonerated of his crime. His information was taken  down because of a recent ruling by the state’s Court of Appeals declaring  sex-offender registration unconstitutional punishment for those who committed  crimes before the registry began in 1995.

Under the ruling, Haines may be  the first of almost one in four registered sex offenders who Maryland could be  forced to scrub from its online database. Maryland officials are now bracing for  the possibility that a wave of lawsuits following his case could require the  state to delist roughly 1,800 of its 8,000 registered sex offenders, state  records, e-mails and interviews show. State officials say they’ll forcefully  challenge each suit.

And the fallout could go further. The state’s  second-highest court is now weighing whether the Haines case should be applied  to a broader group, beginning with a Montgomery County man who pleaded guilty in  2001 to preying on a 12-year-old Pennsylvania girl over the  Internet.

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By Christopher Zoukis Prison can be a dangerous place, even in the best of circumstances.  For inmates convicted of sex offenses, an ever-growing population within the Federal Bureau of Prisons, unique challenges and pitfalls exist beyond those experienced by the prison population as a whole. Introduction: Convict Stratification Prison is a society unto itself.  Inside…

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