Smuggling probed, visits canceled at Coalinga hospital

Smuggling probed, visits canceled at Coalinga hospital
The Associated Press
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COALINGA, Calif.—State officials say they are banning relatives from visiting a state hospital that treats sex offenders while police investigate reports of smuggling.
A spokeswoman for Coalinga State Hospital says visitation was canceled from Friday through Monday so hospital police could look into claims that visitors were smuggling drugs, electronics and possible weapons into the facility.
The state Department of Mental Health houses sexually violent predators in Coalinga after they finish their prison sentences under a procedure called civil detainment, in which criminals can be held indefinitely after completing their sentences if they're still considered a threat.
A group of relatives protesting outside the hospital Sunday said they feared visitation was denied to punish detainees.

Assembly outlaws tampering with sex offender signals

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The state Assembly has passed a bill that would outlaw tampering with the signal from a sex offender's Global Positioning System unit.

The state Department of Corrections uses GPS to track the movement of serious sex offenders after they're freed. Meddling with an offender's tracking device already is illegal.

The bill would make tampering with the devices' signals a felony punishable by up to three years and 6 months in prison and $10,000 in fines.

The bill goes to the state Senate.

[Ed: In reality, I imagine that tampering with the device is not necessary at all. I believe that, to temporarily "disengage" the GPS unit from the constellation of satellites upon which they rely, one would only need to wrap aluminum foil around the device. A couple of layers ought to work fine. Of course, this bit of speculation is provided for informational purposes only; we strongly recommend against attempting to thwart any intentions of our benevolent government(s) and to cooperate with them in all ways possible in their efforts to thoroughly regulate every aspect of your life. ]

Study eyes juvie sex offenders


A Colorado State University study scheduled to begin this summer could lead to better treatment of juvenile sex offenders.

The study will compile published research on whether current treatment programs for juvenile sex offenders decrease the likelihood of re-offense, said Marc Winokur, director of the Social Work Research Center at CSU, which is conducting the study.

“We’re looking at the dichotomy between juveniles who do something inappropriate due to immaturity vs. those who offend because they’re sexually deviant,” Winokur said.

Under current Colorado law, all people convicted of sex offenses are managed by the Colorado Sex Offender Management Board, which is required by law to follow a rigid set of protocols.

Cognitive behavioral therapy, which can include education on proper sexual boundaries and other topics, is the standard treatment for juvenile sex offenders. The study will look the effectiveness of different lengths and settings — individual vs. group and community-based settings vs. residential treatment facility-based settings — Winokur said.

To put all offenders — adult and juvenile — in one box is a “terrible error” and this study could lead to more flexibility in treatment guidelines, said Mervyn Davies, a therapist who treats and evaluates juvenile and adult sex offenders.

“Kids commit sex crimes for a lot of different reasons,” Davies said. “Kids often do things that adults want to analyze from an adult perspective … They should not be compared to adults. It’s grossly unfair and unjust.”

Better treatment could lead to lower recidivism rates. Recidivism rates for adult sex offenders are difficult to track and can be even harder to track for juvenile offenders, said Kim English, research director for the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice, which houses the Sex Offender Management Board.

Sex offenses are still under-reported crimes, English said, partly because the victim is less likely to report if they know the perpetrator. Juvenile offenders are even more likely to know their victims than adult offenders, English said.

“It’s really rare (for a juvenile) to have a stranger as a victim,” she said.
Current research is “quite clear” that juvenile sex offenders are very unlikely to re-offend, something Davies said is “very promising.”

The Larimer County District Attorney’s Office launched a new program about a year ago, that allows juvenile sex offenders to stay out of the system and avoid being labeled a sex offender.

“If they go to court, they’re treated as a sex offender,” said Michelle Brinegar, a chief deputy district attorney and head of the juvenile division. “What we’ve found is that many times with these kids they need intervention.”

The program, which has been completed by six juveniles and currently houses 12 more, requires treatment, but that treatment can be better tailored to the individual, Brinegar said. No participants have failed in the program, she said.

There are approximately 30 juvenile sex offenders under supervision of the Larimer County probation department.

Lumping juveniles who have committed less serious offenses with those who have committed very serious offenses can be harmful because the lower-level offenders can learn from the serious offenders, Brinegar said.

Brinegar said it’s “about time” that someone did a study like Winokur is doing and said it will help her better evaluate what is going to be the best way to handle a case.

Linda Miller, a Fort Collins defense attorney who has had three or four clients go through the DA’s new program , said the program is excellent and she applauded the effort.

“There are a lot of kids who might do something stupid once,” she said. “Those are all kids who, if labeled as a sex offender, will be there for the rest of their lives.”
Miller also said she will be interested to see the outcome of the CSU study.
The study is an update of one done a few years ago when there was little research on the topic.

But the volume of research has grown over the past few years as the topic has drawn more attention, Winokur said. The study is not looking at data specific to Colorado, although Winokur said that is something the center hopes to do in the future.

The study is funded by 12 Colorado counties and the Colorado Department of Human Services.

Va. Targets Adults Who French Kiss Kids

By DENA POTTER – 18 hours ago

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — State legislators passed a law Saturday that would require adults who French kiss a child younger than 13 to register as a sex offender.

Those convicted of tongue-kissing a child would be guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. The House of Delegates passed the legislation 96-1 and the Senate 39-0.

The bill now heads to Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, who said he supports the legislation.

Delagate Riley Ingram, R-Hopewell, introduced the bill on behalf of a woman whose 10-year-old daughter was French-kissed by the 62-year-old husband of her babysitter.

The only crime prosecutors could charge the man with was contributing to the delinquency of a minor, which did not require that he register as a sex offender.

Ingram and other members of the House fought to make the crime a felony, but in the final day of the 2008 General Assembly session gave in to senators who thought that classifying it as a felony was too harsh.

Delegate Phillip Hamilton, R-Newport News, cast the lone nay vote, refusing to back down from his belief that the crime should be a felony.

"I think that type of behavior is so egregious it warrants a felony," Hamilton said.

Ingram said he was satisfied that a conviction would land someone on the sex offender registry.