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Saturday, July 30, 2016

NY Times: Punishment That Doesn’t Fit the Crime By Eric Berkowitz


Opinion: Punishment That Doesn’t Fit the Crime, July 30, 2016
By Eric Berkowitz

San Francisco — When Matthew Grottalio was 10 years old, he and his older brother initiated a touching “game” with their 8-year-old sister. “None of us knew what we were doing,” he said, and he soon forgot about the episode. But later that year, 1998, his sister’s teacher found out and notified the authorities. Just weeks after Matthew’s 11th birthday, police officers handcuffed him outside his fifth-grade classroom. 

Matthew and his parents agreed to a guilty plea in exchange for two years of probation, which he spent in a foster home. (His brother also pleaded guilty.) When he returned to his family, they were stunned to learn that he was listed on the Texas sex offender registry website, and would be for 10 years. He was just 13 years old. Neighbors threw a Molotov cocktail at his house and shot and killed his family’s dog. Local newspapers listed him by name along with adult sex offender “monsters” in the area. 

He soon “hated life, hated everybody.” Their sons’ ordeals shattered their parents’ marriage of two decades. Matthew dropped out of high school, ran away, was homeless for two years, sank into drugs and served time for burglary and parole violations. 

His decade on the registry had ended by 2011, but internet searches continued to show him on the list — and still do. Even worse, his parole included restrictions suitable to a serial child rapist. He was barred from any unsupervised and unapproved contacts with people under 17, and from any contact with his sister, who was by then an adult. (She says she never considered him a threat.) He also was barred from contact with the children of the woman he married in 2013. Even contact with the baby the couple had together was in limbo until he passed a sex offender evaluation.
 

PROTECT’s Virginia Child Protection Accountability System is Intentionally 'Hazardous' to Virginia Judge’s Careers

PROTECT (which is based out of Tennessee) has favorite Virginia Legislators to get Their Legislation proposed at the annual VA General Assembly session for their Legislative Liaison Camille Cooper (who resides in VA). 

This is the same organization who’s PROTECT Act in Washington D.C. has allowed for administrative warrants for sexual charges across the country and who lobby for Alicia’s Law from state-to-state. 

They take great pride in strong-arming, having their supporters flood Legislators phone lines, and shaming Legislators in Committee meetings and to the media who don’t immediately side with PROTECT. PROTECT’s supporters regularly leave Facebook messages suggesting death by the States or by the public, physical castration and forced organ donation for RSO’s and PROTECT allows such vigilante and criminal comments to remain on their site. PROTECT itself has gleefully stated that RSO’s who are sent to prison will get what’s coming to them by being raped by other inmates. Nice, huh? 

Since starting this blog in 2013 I have mentioned Camille Cooper a few times:
Ø       November 5, 2015            http://goo.gl/Kd1ZEX
Ø       August 29, 2015                http://goo.gl/IdJ5Mi
Ø       April 25, 2014                     http://goo.gl/KM9UbY
Ø       December 8, 2013            http://goo.gl/M4KVsT 

Well a few years back (in 2012) PROTECT got a Bill passed to create the Virginia Child Protection Accountability System. Everyone (Legislators, Governor, Virginia Judges, etc) knew that the data gathered from this “system” would be used against Virginia Judges by PROTECT during the Judges reappointment hearings by the General Assembly if PROTECT didn’t like the sentences being given by the judges in sex crime cases. I sat in the 2012 Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission meetings while the Judges discussed the true intent of the new law/system and I posted about those meetings on my old website which is no longer accessible. Now in 2016/2017 PROTECT is in Minnesota trying to get the same system implemented.

2 days ago on PROTECT’s Facebook page they posted a message to their supporters and then a second message the next day on how Judges have in fact changed their sentencing because of the Virginia Accountability System, not because the evidence or defendant warrant the change.