Monday, January 13, 2014

In the news by Karen Franklin PhD: Putting the Cart Before the Horse: The Forensic Application of the SRA-FV

In the news by Karen Franklin PhD: Putting the Cart Before the Horse: The Forensic Application of the SRA-FV

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Putting the Cart Before the Horse: The Forensic Application of the SRA-FV

As the developers of actuarial instruments such as the Static-99R acknowledge that their original norms inflated the risk of re-offense for sex offenders, a brand-new method is cropping up to preserve those inflated risk estimates in sexually violent predator civil commitment trials. The method introduces a new instrument, the “SRA-FV,” in order to bootstrap special “high-risk” norms on the Static-99R. Curious about the scientific support for this novel approach, I asked forensic psychologist and statistics expert Brian Abbott to weigh in.

Guest post by Brian Abbott, PhD*

NEWS FLASH: Results from the first peer-reviewed study about the Structured Risk Assessment: Forensic Version (“SRA-FV”), published in Sexual Abuse: Journal of Research and Treatment (“SAJRT”), demonstrate the instrument is not all that it’s cracked up to be.

To read more: In the news by Karen Franklin PhD: Putting the Cart Before the Horse: The Forensic Application of the SRA-FV

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Milwaukee Ald. Jim Bohl under investigation for suspected coercion

Milwaukee Ald. Jim Bohl under investigation for suspected coercion

Milwaukee Ald. Jim Bohl is under investigation for allegedly causing a landlord to get hit with a slew of code violations after he refused to evict two sex offenders from a property in the alderman's district.
Investigators from the district attorney's office believe Bohl then had the landlord's records falsely wiped clean after the landlord said he had broken a state housing contract for the offenders. The landlord, in fact, did not break that contract.
The investigation is revealed in a search warrant that seeks phone and email records of Bohl; his aide Todd Peterson; Department of Neighborhood Services inspector Todd Vandre; and an audit trail of DNS records related to nine of the landlord's properties.
The warrant indicates investigators were seeking evidence of misconduct in public office, and threats to injure or accuse of a crime. Both are felonies.
According to the search warrant affidavit, Bohl told the landlord's property manager in October that the two tenants "needed to go" from a house in the 3200 block of N. 77th St.
The men were both on supervised release under the state's Chapter 980 law that allows civil commitment beyond prison sentences for certain sex offenders. They were placed in the house through an August contract established by the state Department of Health Services, which oversees Chapter 980 subjects.
Within a few a days of the conversation with Bohl, property owner Jeff Stockinger told his manager that he had recently been hit with orders to correct a variety of violations issued by the city's Department of Neighborhood Services at his properties. All were from the same inspector, Vandre, and dated Oct. 15 through Oct. 18.
"I was shocked, stunned and scared," said Jim Miller, who worked as Stockinger's property manager. "Jeff was livid. He thought it would put him out of business."
Miller said that before the violations were issued, Bohl offered to take money out of his campaign fund to make Stockinger whole for three months' of rental — an allegation Bohl denied through his attorney. Miller said the monthly rent at the home where the two tenants were living was $1,250 a month, or $3,750 for the three months.
"Jeff never responded to the offer," Miller said.
On Oct. 24, Stockinger and Miller met with Bohl at the City Market, 8725 W. North Ave. According to Miller, Bohl said he was sorry to "play hardball" but that under no circumstances would he allow the sex offenders to live in his district.
"When he made that hardball comment, it really pissed me off," Miller said Thursday.
"We knew we didn't want to go toe-to-toe with him," Miller said. "We said there's no way to get out of the lease. Bohl said the violations weren't going to go away."
Miller said Stockinger asked Bohl would happen if the lease were to go away. Miller said Bohl said the violations would be wiped clean.
After Miller agreed to ask the state to break the lease, Bohl told Stockinger the many code violation orders would be "magically lost" and Stockinger could avoid the $20,000 to $40,000 in repairs the orders called for, according to the affidavit.
A district attorney's office investigator, Robert Stelter, said in an affidavit that the violations began to disappear from the Department of Neighborhood Services' records. When some remained, Miller called Peterson to complain and was told: "We can't just wipe the slate clean quickly. They'll very slowly trickle off."
Miller said he called the state employee in charge of placing sex offenders in the community and explained the situation. Then he called Bohl's office.
"I called Bohl's office and updated him," Miller said. "Bohl seemed pleased with this."
Officials at the state Department of Health Services, the agency that oversees placement of sex offenders, acknowledged they were aware of the investigation.
Inspection reports included with the search warrant application show Stockinger's properties were cited for a variety of violations and he was ordered to clear gutters, connect downspouts, pave parking areas, paint wood trim, repair or replace porch railings, roofing, mortar and a broken window, and install a dryer vent cover, among other repairs.
Attorney Mike Maistelman, who often represents clients at City Hall in licensing and has represented elected officials in other cases, said Thursday he was Bohl's lawyer.
In a statement released by Maistelman and attributed to Bohl, the aldermen said: "As my constituents well know, the safety of the residents of my district has been and always will be my number one priority. It is disappointing to see these allegations made public before a full examination of the facts was completed. I look forward to working with investigators to answer any and all questions and to resolve any outstanding issues."
Maistelman said the allegation that Bohl offered to cover the landlord's losses from his campaign fund is "unequivocally not true."
Aside from the statement, Bohl did not respond to emails or phone calls. He was not home when a reporter stopped there.
A source familiar with the probe said Bohl had been aware of the pending investigation for some time. Maistelman declined to comment on that.
Peterson, Bohl's aide, said his attorney had advised him not to comment on the matter. He then hung up the phone.
A spokesman for the city's Department of Neighborhood Services released a statement after the investigation was made public.
"Regarding the investigation mentioned in the Journal Sentinel, DNS was made aware of the situation by the district attorney's office. DNS is fully cooperating with the district attorney. Due to the nature of the investigation, DNS has no additional comment at this time," the statement said.
Bohl, 42, was first elected in 2000 and is serving his fourth full term represented the 5th Aldermanic District following his re-election in April 2012.
In 2007, he and Ald. Tony Zielinski proposed an ordinance that would have virtually prohibited any new sex offender placements within the city, with restrictions so tight that only 0.14% of the city's residences would have qualified to house them. The ordinance was not adopted.
Where sex offenders should be allowed to live has been a divisive issue for at least a decade, since Billy Lee Morford quietly moved into a home on the northwest side of Milwaukee.
Protests led to a search for alternative sites, each of which encountered its own resistance from neighbors. There was talk of making the state build a group facility somewhere in the county for sex offenders released under Chapter 980
Most recently, Shawn Schulpius finally won supervised release from Chapter 980 commitment after years of trying. His planned placement in the Bay View area met with more subdued concern.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Village pauses on sex offender ordinance

Village pauses on sex offender ordinance


MOUNT PLEASANT — After hearing testimony on how sex offender placement ordinances can backfire, a village committee voted unanimously Wednesday to take more time in creating such an ordinance for Mount Pleasant.
Such ordinances set restrictions on where child and violent sex offenders out on supervised release can live, sometimes limiting them to only small sections of a municipality. Village Board members on the Finance/Legal/License committee said Mount Pleasant’s proposed ordinance is designed to mirror those passed by Racine, Caledonia and Sturtevant, ensuring their village doesn’t become a “dumping ground” for released offenders.
But Department of Corrections Field Supervisor Matt Kaesermann cautioned committee members Wednesday, saying research and experience shows such ordinances can hurt more than they help, leading to homelessness among offenders after release. When offenders are homeless, it makes it hard for authorities to monitor them and increases their chances of re-offending.
Following a recent flurry of sex offender ordinances passed in the area, Kaesermann said only one transitional living home, in the 2100 block of Mount Pleasant’s Racine Street, is available to temporarily house offenders upon release. The other approximately 15 to 20 homes that previously served the purpose can no longer house them thanks to recent ordinances, he said.
Additionally, although his department is currently working to re-establish those transitional homes in areas that comply with the ordinance, Kaesermann said the next group of sex offenders scheduled for release this January is currently expected to be homeless.
According to Kaesermann, limiting the locations released offenders can be placed leads to “unintended consequences” by increasing the number of homeless offenders and draining department resources by complicating the search for housing. It additionally makes those offenders harder to monitor and/or concentrates them into small geographic areas, he said.
“That’s not public safety,” said Kaesermann, himself a Mount Pleasant resident. “In my opinion, that doesn’t do anything.”
Mount Pleasant Chief of Police Tim Zarzecki said that after speaking to Kaesermann, he reached out to law enforcement officials in Brown County, where similar ordinances have been in place and at least one has been rescinded.
“What they both told me, in essence, summarized, is that in their opinion, the sex offender ordinance has pushed people underground,” Zarzecki said.
Research shows recidivism decreases when offenders are kept separate from one another, re-integrated with society and closely monitored, Kaesermann said.
“Suitable housing, positive social supports … that leads to a reduction in recidivism. Are they working? Do they have a sense of self-worth?” he said.
In light of Kaesermann’s testimony, Mount Pleasant trustees unanimously voted to temporarily delay a decision on the ordinance.
“We’ve received some new information,” said Village President Mark Gleason. “We need to have an ordinance that has the right teeth in it.”
Gleason stressed the need to carefully craft the ordinance to best ensure public safety, but he also insisted, “We don’t want to sit on it. We really need to focus on this a little bit and bring it back as soon as we possibly can.”


A countywide sex offender ordinance?

MOUNT PLEASANT — The possibility of creating a countywide ordinance for placing sex offenders on supervised release surfaced Wednesday as trustees mulled a proposal to restrict sex offender placements in the Village of Mount Pleasant.
Mount Pleasant Village President Mark Gleason also serves as a supervisor on the County Board. He said Wednesday he planned to schedule a sit-down with Racine County’s corporate counsel to explore sex offender placement on a countywide basis.
Gleason and other members of Mount Pleasant’s Finance/Legal/License Committee spoke of the need for a “holistic approach” to placing sex offenders across Racine County, not just in Mount Pleasant.
It’s unclear what impact that might have on local ordinances until the measure is drafted, according to Gleason, but he hopes it would mean Mount Pleasant won’t need to duplicate the county ordinance.
Mount Pleasant Chief of Police Tim Zarzecki is contacting the Racine County District Attorney’s office “to ensure what we create is enforceable,” Gleason said, adding that he’ll be checking with the county’s corporate counsel as well.
In the interim, Gleason said, the village may consider “stopgap” measures limiting sex offender placement.
“I want to be clear,” Gleason said. “We are very committed to public safety.”

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

GPS Ankle Bracelets Now Have the Ability to Listen and Record Conversations - :

GPS Ankle Bracelets Now Have the Ability to Listen and Record Conversations - :

Board removes bike paths from offender restriction list

Board removes bike paths from offender restriction list

November 15, 2013 6:23 am  • 
RACINE — Although Thursday was the first time the city’s Sex Offender Residency Appeal board considered an appeal to where an offender can live, it was not the first official action of the board.
That occurred a few weeks ago when the body voted to remove bike paths from the list of places violent or child sex offenders are restricted from living near under a city ordinance.
When aldermen voted this spring to bar violent or child sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of locations where children spend time, the list included a host of places, including schools, playgrounds, day care centers, libraries, parks, playgrounds, swimming pools, houses of worship and bike paths.
A review by The Journal Times of a map drafted for by the city showing the effect of such restrictions revealed that left only few pockets of the city available to such offenders.
On Thursday, John Campion said he and his fellow board members decided to strike paths from the list after determining that is was “unnecessarily restrictive without an attendant benefit.”