Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sentenced to death by freezing. Politics at work.

You often hear the words: “You do the crime, you do the time.” The theory has been that once someone has “paid their debt to society” (a phrase that is invalid in many ways) then they are given another chance to “go straight.” A man may cruelly beat his wife, put her in hospital, and spend time in prison for it. When he comes out his punishment is over. A woman may mistreat her child, leading to the death of that child, and serve time in prison for it. But when she has served her time she is released and the punishment ends.

Only one class of people is punished repeatedly, over and over, for the rest of their lives: sex offenders. Of course, when people think of these people, they assume that everyone is talking about someone who violently raped a small child. In truth few offenders fit that profile. We have seen how a sex offender can be a teen on a date with another teen. If the object of their affection has lied about his/her age, the older teen can be classified as a sex offender and punished for the rest of his/her life. The rabid politicians, always seeking to appear “pro-active” continue to make life worse and worse for such people, while “closing loopholes” which means inventing more criminals who fall into this category. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote:
When convicts serve their sentences, their debts are paid, and they are generally free to live and work wherever they can find shelter and employment. But the sex offender registry is a kind of life sentence. Those on it cannot live or work within 1,000 feet of places children congregate, such as parks, schools, rec centers and swimming pools.
A teenager streaking a school event as a prank can be classified as a sex offender. Two teens, both of the same age, can have sex and become “sex offenders” for molesting each other. Teens who took racy photos of themselves are arrested as child pornographers and treated like sex offenders. We have seen numerous cases where a girl lied about her age to her date, and admits she lied about her age, but the date is deemed a “predator” by the stupid justice system.

Right now there is a man in Georgia who is on the sex offender registry for a hold-up he committed years ago as a stupid teen.

Darnelle Harvey was 17 when he and a friend decided to hold up a Dairy Queen restaurant in 1990. He’s listed as a sex offender for that robbery yet no sex was involved. He and a friend hid outside the Dairy Queen waiting to rob it. Harvey was reluctant, he told his friend he was not willing to go through with the crime. His friend admits that he then pointed a gun at Harvey and told him he had no choice. Harvey caved in under the threat.

As they approached the shop a 16-year-old boy exited. He was told to lie on the crime and they robbed him. One by one as the people in the store left they were robbed. But Georgia politicians say that “false imprisonment” is a sex offense even if no sex was involved. And making the boy lie on the ground during the robbery was “false imprisonment” and thus a sex crime.

Greg Soucia broke was caring for someone’s property. When they were away he went into their house and stole a credit card. For that he was registered as a sex offender. The local prosecutor said that Soucia used the credit card to hire a stripper so it was now a “sex crime.” He said: “If you commit a burglary and your goal is because of your own sexual gratification, it’s a sexually motivated felony.” I assume a teenage boy shoplifting Playboy is now a sex offender under this logic.

When sex offender registries were first created they were limited to individuals who were violent and dangerous. Over time the registries have been expanded and expanded again. In addition, the definition of “sex offense” has been blown entirely out of proportion so that an increasing number of people on that list pose no threat to anyone—and never did. In Georgia alone “thousands” of sex offenders “are on the registry for having consensual sex when they were teenagers, or for lesser crimes such as flashing, peeping through windows and sexual battery, which often translates into inappropriate touching.” One offender “a 23-year-old Georgia State student, got on the list for drunkenly groping a co-ed at a keg party.”

The perpetual punishment of “sex offenders” rests entirely on a theory that has no substance: once a sex offender always a sex offender. The claim is spread around that sex offenders are incapable of controlling their impulses and will offend again so they must be tightly regulated and controlled. A large majority of convicted offenders do not reoffend. The Center for Sex Offender Management of the Department of Justice, in a link that now appears broken, said that it is a myth that, “most offenders reoffend.” They said, “Reconviction data suggest that this is not the case” and “recidivism rates for sex offenders are lower than for the general criminal population.”

One sex offender who did not reoffend was Thomas Pauli who was convicted twenty years ago for molestation. Like so many “registered offenders” Pauli was homeless. Politicians have legislated hundreds of thousands of offenders out of their homes forcing them to roam the streets. Zoning legislation restricts where they may live, yet the law may require them to stay in a specific city. Thus they can be sentenced to live in a city where it is illegal for them to “reside” anywhere. For instance, in Miami offenders were rendered homeless by city laws restricting where they could reside. The only location that wasn’t covered was under a bridge.

Thomas Pauli was homeless and wandering the streets of Grand Rapids. Two homeless shelters were in the area but state law required them to turn Pauli out into the cold. Had either shelter given him a warm place to stay they would have been in violation of sex offender laws. Pauli wandered the streets trying to find a warm place. He climbed a fence by a car repair shop. The owner says that he believes the man was looking for an open car where he could shelter himself from the cold. A local news report said:
Don Lamse, 70, who operates a car repair shop in the building, said he walked outside about 9:30 a.m. Monday to look for a part. He found Pauli crouched in a kneeling position. "I thought he was trying to stay warm," Lamse said. "I don't know exactly what put him there...It's been very cold, and I've seen where, occasionally, people use vehicles to get out of the cold. I don't know if that was his intention."
News sources say that spokesmen for the two homeless shelters in the area “agreed that Pauli may have tried to gain entrance, but that their missions risk fines and loss of license if they admit sex offenders. Bill Shaffer of the Guiding Light shelter said: “These men and women are clearly ‘The Scarlet Letter’ folks of our day. And where do they go? I have no answer.”

A quarter of a century ago Thomas Pauli did something wrong. He served 11 years in jail because of it. And then he was released to find that he was being subjected to a life sentence of legal harassment. Still, he didn’t reoffend. He obeyed the laws and as a result, this last January, he had no place to live legally. Two homeless shelters were willing to help him but they too were stopped by the law. Mr. Pauli wandered the streets in subfreezing weather. He was found on his knees between two cars, frozen to death. He may have served his time for the crime he did, and he may have learned his lesson and never reoffended, but he was literally tortured in freezing conditions and sentenced to death because of legislation that protects no one. Here is one man killed by grandstanding politicians who don't bother thinking through the results of their own legislation.

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