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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Congressman Jerrold Nadler of NY Introduces HR4914 The Keep Kids Safe Act it Would Stop Registered Sex Offenders Convicted of a Misdemeanor Against a Child From Owning/Possessing a Firearm or Ammunition

Doesn't Matter Anymore. If it's a Sex Offense
in the U.S. You Have No Rights and There are No Second Chances!

It’s HR4914.

Congressman Nadler Introduces the Keep Kids Safe Act to Stop Sex Offenders Who Target Children from Owning or Acquiring a Gun, April 12, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, introduced legislation to prevent guns from getting into the hands of sex offenders who prey on children.  Federal law prohibits persons convicted of a felony from buying, selling, or possessing guns or ammunition, yet it is perfectly legal for someone convicted a misdemeanor sex crime against a minor to acquire a firearm.  The Keep Kids Safe Act of 2016 would close this safety gap, making it illegal under federal law for someone convicted of a misdemeanor sex crime against a child to transfer, acquire or possess firearms or ammunition. 

“Guns in the possession of those who are unstable or unfit to use them can have devastating consequences, which is why it is so important for us to be proactive in ensuring that people who may do others harm do not have access to firearms,” said Congressman Nadler.  “Keeping guns out of the hands of those convicted of sex crimes against a child should be the easiest place to start. The Keep Kids Safe Act ensures that predators who have been convicted of offenses against children are not able to buy firearms. Allowing sex offenders who already have shown a propensity to target children access to guns is too great a risk. It is irresponsible to simply wait until the next tragedy happens before we act.”  

The Keep Kids Safe Act covers misdemeanor sex offenders against children and is modeled after the firearms ban that applies to those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes.  In addition to making it illegal under federal law for someone convicted of a misdemeanor sex crime against a minor to transfer, receive, or possess firearms or ammunition, it would also be a crime for anyone to provide such an offender with firearms or ammunition. The legislation is supported by Everytown for Gun Safety, the Violence Policy Center, and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence united with the Million Mom March. 

Action Item: Ask Virginia Representatives in Washington D.C. to Sponsor a Bill to Add RSO’s to Protected Group Under Federal Hate Crimes


Many people think Hate Crimes shouldn’t exist at all. That a crime by anyone against anyone should be equally prosecuted and punished; well that’s a debate for another day.

Hate Crimes first at a Federal level and then the States followed, do exist and it’s time for Congress to consider adding a new group to the Federal list. 

The definition of a Hate Crime:
Hate crime (also known as bias-motivated crime) is a usually violent, prejudice motivated crime that occurs when a perpetrator targets a victim because of his or her perceived membership in a certain social group. Examples of such groups include but are not limited to: ethnicity, gender identity, language, nationality, physical appearance, religion, or sexual orientation.[ 

In Virginia it’s any criminal act committed against a person or his property with the specific intent of instilling fear or intimidation in the individual against whom the act is perpetrated because of race, religion or ethnic origin. 

So what “group” of citizens do I think needs to be included under Hate Crimes?  

Registered Sex Offenders (RSO) are a “certain social group” and any violence against them should be punished as such. 

The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) added "Sex Offenders" to their list of people to target in 2009, possibly earlier.  In a Google search you can easily find videos and news articles about it. The KKK is motivated by theological and political ideologies, but mostly it’s an “Us” versus “Them” movement. 

The KKK is the oldest and most notorious Hate Group in America with a history of fear, violence and vigilantism. They are anti-African-American (Pro-Caucasian/White Supremacy), anti-Jew (Pro-Christian), anti-LGBT, anti-Immigrant, anti-Communist AND anti-Sex Offenders. These are all “undesirables to target” according to the KKK.

Because of this the U.S. Government should include those listed on the 50 State Sex Offender Registries who are copied onto the National Sex Offender Registry under the Federal Hate Crimes statute.

The U.S. Government has allowed each state to post a variety of personal information of their RSO’s online including home addresses, name of employer, address of employer, phone numbers, license plate numbers and maps right to their front doors. It’s practically a Government sponsored invitation for a vigilante to strike a vulnerable stranger because they are part of an undesirable group. 

While most Americans would agree any Hate Group is despicable and if they commit a crime against others based on race, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation, they should face Federal charges. Most Americans couldn’t care less about Registered Sex Offenders (or their family members) being harassed, intimidated, threatened, vandalized, beaten or even killed, after all they are a Registered Sex Offender. 

But that’s the point here.  

Selecting and then targeting someone from a “list” because the U.S .Government has claimed the public has a right to know who these “Predators” and “Pedophiles” are and where they live actually creates paranoia and fear within the population that wouldn’t exist if there weren’t Registries. By posting RSO’s information online and mapping right to their front door the U.S. Government has made every RSO vulnerable to harassment, intimidation or worse.
 

SVP Civil Commitment: Why Sex Criminals Get Locked Up Forever By Aviva Stahl

Illustration by Matt Rota
Why Sex Criminals Get Locked Up Forever, April 13, 2016
By Aviva Stahl

Gilbert Greenfield sits upright in the chair, his body tense, a blood-pressure cuff attached to his left arm. A sensor is strapped around his chest, and two more cap his fingertips to measure how much he's sweating. 

The polygrapher asks a question: "During the past year, have you fantasized about inflicting pain while having forced sexual intercourse with a female?"  

"No," Greenfield responds. 

The polygrapher prompts Greenfield again: "During the past year, have you masturbated to sexual fantasies about forcing a female to have sexual intercourse with you?" 

"No," he replies. 

When the test is over, Greenfield can breathe a sigh of relief—he passed. A court has ruled he's a sexually violent predator, and to go through the rehabilitative program, his treatment team must believe he is being open and honest about his deviant fantasies.
 

In Virginia Innocence Doesn’t Matter When it’s a Sex Crime and Legislators Try to Downplay Wrongful Convictions and False Accusations........Isn’t it Time for that to Change?


On Monday April 11th 2016 I was invited for the second time to speak at the Alliance for Progressive Values (APV) monthly Salon. Thank you so much APV leaders and members, I enjoyed the discussion and I hope you will now question harsher and broader laws against RSO's when our elected-officials tell you they are “common-sense” , “this will keep your children safe” , “if this law existed previously then so-and-so might would have been prevented” and “ this will close a known loophole”. These and similar key-phrases should make your radar go up anytime a Legislator says them and closer examination of their proposal should occur immediately. 

While preparing my APV handouts for Monday’s event in which I included last months great New Yorker article, National Recidivism Rates, Virginia Registry growth and costs, Books and Studies and much more……….the recent Keith Allen Harward exoneration was in the back of my mind as well as 4 other highly publicized and editorialized cases of innocent Virginians who were wrongly convicted and then trapped by Virginia’s laws as RSO’s with few options to ever receive justice. 

Innocent Virginians who are on the VSP Registry MUST have DNA to obtain a Full-pardon or a Writ of Actual Innocence (the only ways to be removed from the VSP Registry) after a wrongful conviction otherwise they will remain an RSO for life……. struggling to maintain housing, employment and their family. 

So I decided to create a list of the innocent Virginia RSO’s (see below) who have made the news in the last 12-14 years to show APV members how easily a false accusation, a misidentification, improper forensic science, prosecutorial misconduct and false confessions can lead to a wrongful conviction in Virginia and a lifetime on the VSP Registry. 

These men are a drop-in-the-bucket when it comes to the total number of innocent Virginians who are publicly labeled Sex Offender because each and every year the Virginia Legislature continues to expand current sex crimes, create new sex crimes, lower the burden of proof, deny due process to college men, raise the penalty (with mandatory minimums or life w/out parole), allowing prior sex convictions to be admissible in court for new sex charges and eliminating the statute of limitations so defendants face accusations with no evidence or witnesses available to wage a defense decades later. Don’t forget in Virginia there is NO Discovery for the defense (it’s known as Trial by Ambush) and in Virginia we have the 21-Day Rule so on the 22nd day a recant by the victim or by a witness is completely ignored by the Commonwealth even though the Commonwealth’s Attorney case to convict the defendant was based on that very same victim or witnesses earlier claims. 

If you haven’t heard of the men below, Google them.  

Read about their convictions, read the editorials about the Virginia laws that allowed them to be convicted or that prevented them from being exonerated in a timely manner or at all. Read about how long they remained in prison, how long they were required to register as public Sex Offenders and even when evidence was discovered years later, did it lead to a full-pardon or exoneration OR are they still a Registered Sex Offender even though everyone knows they are innocent? 

Two other false accusations for sex crimes in Virginia that made the news but thankfully never made it to a conviction or to sentencing are Mark Weiner and Sean Lanigan! 

Defenders of the archaic Virginia 21 Day Rule perpetuate the myth that our criminal justice system almost never convicts an innocent person, that they are the exception AND that frivolous claims of innocence or recantations would cripple the Virginia court system. This has not been the case in other states with broader opportunities.  

The Virginia Legislature has created a current system where it is all too easy for a vindictive, selfish, confused or scared person to brand innocent citizens a “Sex Offender” for life with no evidence. 

Virginia Legislators and Victim-Advocates love to say that false allegations are a very small percentage of sex crimes in an attempt to convince the public that these people aren’t worth any consideration or concern.  

Well, we know better……. don’t we? 

It’s not that the list of false accusations is low it’s that the ability to challenge the cases after the fact is impossible so very few make it into the news and worse even less into Virginia courts.  
 
Mary Devoy

 

Keith Allen Harward      
 
  • Reason for wrongful conviction: Improper Forensic Science and Government Misconduct for Rape and murder in 1982.
  • In 2014 the Innocence Project got involved in his case
  • After serving 33 years in prison his DNA was tested pointing to a shipmate as the perpetrator, the VA Supreme Court agreed and he was released on April 8, 2016, fully-exonerated and he removed from the VSP Registry. 
Michael Kenneth McAlister   
 
  • Reason for wrongful conviction: Eye Witness Misidentification for Rape in 1986.
  • He served 29 years in prison and in February 2015 he was about to be civilly committed by the VA AG’s Office as a Sexually Violent Predator (SVP). Virginia law bars someone facing commitment from challenging the validity of prior criminal convictions during the commitment process. Then his story made the news (RTD’s Frank Green) and the public and Administration took notice.
  • In May 2015 Gov McAuliffe granted him an absolute-pardon and he was removed from the VSP Registry.
Edgar Coker Jr.     
 
  • Reason for wrongful conviction: False Accusation of Rape in 2007.
  • At the age of 15 (juvenile) he took a guilty plea for rape of a 14 year old, 2 months later the female accuser admitted she lied and he remained in prison.
  • When he completed his sentence in 2008 he became a public Sex Offender.
  • For 6 years the UVA Innocence Project tried to get his name cleared but because of the 21-Day Rule the truth did not matters (as a Wash Post article phrased it Innocence is no Defense in VA) and they instead had to prove he received ineffective counsel.
  • In February 2014 he was fully-exonerated and he was removed from the VSP Registry. 
Jonathan C. Montgomery
 
  • Reason for wrongful conviction: False Accusation of Sexual Assault
  • In 2007 when he was 22 years old he was accused of a sexual assault 8 years earlier (at 14 years old, a juvenile) upon a then 10 year old female. There was no evidence against him just her word and noted in the court transcripts the judge said there’d be no reason for her to lie and he sentenced Jonathan to 7.5 years in prison.
  • Elizabeth Paige Coast recanted when he was in the 4th year of the prison sentence.
  • Virginia AG Cuccinelli and Gov McDonnell couldn’t seem to figure out how to release Mr. Montgomery and the issue was covered by the news. McDonnell granted a conditional pardon in November 2012, Mr. Montgomery had to register as a public Sex Offender.
  • In December 2013 the courts granted him a Writ of Actual Innocence and he was removed from the VSP Registry.
  • This is the ONLY recant in VA that has ever resulted in a Writ of Actual Innocence for the RSO because of VA’s 21-Day Rule, because he was still incarcerated when she recanted. If Mr. Montgomery had already been released he’d be living as a public Sex Offender today for the rest of his life.
  • Ms. Coast served 2 months (weekends) for committing perjury for the false claim of sexual assault.
Thomas Haynesworth