Thursday, June 8, 2017

Appeals Court: An IP Address And Some Alternative Facts Are A 'Reasonable' Basis For A Search | Techdirt

Appeals Court: An IP Address And Some Alternative Facts Are A 'Reasonable' Basis For A Search | Techdirt

New Trial Requested in 'Making a Murderer' Case | Wisconsin News | US News

New Trial Requested in 'Making a Murderer' Case | Wisconsin News | US News

Violent sex offenders live near Portage Co. community center, spotlighting placement challenges

WJFW TV-12, WJFWDT 12.1 and Newswatch 12 - Your Northwoods News Leader and NBC Affiliate - Rhinelander Wisconsin

Violent sex offenders live near Portage Co. community center, spotlighting placement challengesSubmitted: 06/07/2017
ROSHOLT - People in small, rural towns wonder why they keep getting offenders from other counties.

State law requires violent sex offenders to return to the county where they were convicted after they are released from prison.

However, Jason Staves and Peter Yogerst two registered sex offenders who are classified as sexually violent are living in the same building in Rosholt, but neither is from Portage County.

Their house is just across the street from the Central Wisconsin Electric cooperative.

However, this business serves as a community center for the people of Portage County, where children can often be seen playing.

A Chippewa County judge needed a residence to place Staves, but couldn't find appropriate housing in Chippewa County.

Therefore, he placed him in Portage County, a county where Staves never lived before or offended in.
A Washington County judge did the exact same thing with Yogerst.

"We still think those people are very dangerous," said Portage County District Attorney Louis Molepske.

Molepske says that same house was already deemed unfit by a Portage County judge for Charles Anderson, a sexually violent person actually from Portage County.

"That tells me the law really is not fair," said State Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point).

Shankland says Anderson is still being held in custody in a treatment facility because officials can't find an appropriate residence.

The Portage County judge who dealt with Anderson's case knew this house was next door to the town's community center, even though it is technically a business.

The Portage County judge was able to turn Anderson away due to a 2016 amendment of a Wisconsin Law. Wisconsin Legislature Act 156 severely limits where a sexually violent person can live.

The list of restrictions is so strict that sexually violent persons who lived in cities and larger towns often can't find any appropriate housing upon their release.

"People in urban areas keep getting sent to rural areas because it's easier to meet the placement standards," said Shankland.

Therefore, when the Chippewa County and Washington County judges needed a residence for their two sexually violent persons, they placed them just outside of Rosholt.

The judges did not realize the business across the street acts as the town's community center.

"The Portage County judge knew what he was doing because he knew the area but the other two judges did not," said Shankland.

"They did not consider that business. They didn't even walk across the street to see what was there," said Molepske.

Neighbors in the area want answers as to why a residence that was already labeled inappropriate to house a sexually violent person is now home to two outside offenders.

"I'm concerned for my family's safety and for my neighbor's safety," said Bill Wolosek, who lives less than half a mile from Staves and Yogerst.

Wolosek says rural towns shouldn't be treated as dumping grounds for criminals and sex offenders.

"They should not necessarily be able to turn us into nothing but a peasant that they can do whatever they want to," said Wolosek.

"Worst part is, once they are placed there you can't do anything about it," said Shankland.

Mike Wade is the President and CEO of the Central Wisconsin Electric Cooperative and the community center. He wasn't even notified until after the men were placed across the street.

"To us, it just doesn't make a lot of sense," said Wade.

Shankland says Act 156 has caused problems like this all over Wisconsin.

"I think it's a mistake to have the state make all the decisions because they don't live in the communities they are making the placements," said Shankland.

Since the placement of Staves and Yogerst, Shankland teamed up with Rep. Mark Born (R-Beaver Dam) to insert a proposal in the state's budget bill to give counties more flexibility in housing their offenders.

It would also cut off the option of sending offenders to other counties.

The Joint Finance Committee voted 13 to 3 in favor of the proposal.

We will likely find out if it passes as part of the full budget later this month.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

If Changes Were to Be Made to Our Legal System...

I was brought up to believe that if I was going to complain about something I should have an idea of how I would fix it if I had the power to change the status quo.  So when confronted by the our current legal system, how it works and how it doesn't work, I started making a list of the things I believe might be better than what we currently have.

  1. No plea bargains - the state needs to prove its case rather than being a bully using multiple charges to coerce a plea.  This would reduce the number of felony enhancement charges filed against innocent people only serving to create notches in a prosecutor's belt when the accused takes a plea.  Ensuring prosecutors would be more choosy about who and how they charge people for crimes.  They would need to carry the true weight of burden of proof, rather than this status quo of bullying people into plea bargains to save them time and make money for the prison business machine.  Even when the prisons are owned and managed by the government they are still in the business of cutting costs. As usual the first to suffer these cuts are not the workers in the prison but the prisoners. 
  2. Sentence restructuring, eliminate the death penalty.  Our courts are not infallible, they are not error free, thus do not really meet the criteria of complete certainty of conviction.  Without complete certainty, it is not worth taking one innocent person's life due to a mistake.  A mistake that cannot be taken back or compensated for.  
  3. Twenty year cap or even twenty-five year cap on all sentences regardless of crime.  No more life sentences.  Far too expensive and it happens to promote a "nothing to lose" mentality in prison which will cause an increase of inmate violence.  With a sentencing cap focus can then be turned to rehabilitation and slow reintegration while incarcerated.  When I picture this I see something similar to Sweden's system of incarceration and reintegration. The place to start right now though, begin treatment for the offender the day they step foot in prison.  Leave no time for them to become a better criminal or learn anything new from fellow inmates. 
  4. Since there will be no plea bargains, always a trial, the jury will be of the peers of that person, based off of their race, color, creed, religion, etc.  It says PEERS, not just 'people'.  So there will be no all white juries convicting some poor African American boy and no all African American juries convicting some poor white boy. 
  5. Offenders, once released from prison, will return to the community to which they committed their crime, unless their support system is located elsewhere completely.  Offenders are less likely to re-offend if they have a good support system nearby that they can lean on when necessary.  It is when they do not have a support system that things can begin to go downhill for the offender, many times landing then back in jail or prison. 
  6. There should be no residency restrictions for any crime.  Unless it can be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the location of the offender directly contributed to the crime they committed, where a person sleeps at night is of very little consequence. 
  7. If there must be a public registry, make it for ALL felonies not just one.  There are some pretty dangerous offenders out there that have committed heinous crimes that are not listed on any public registry.  We don't know where they live, we don't know where they work, and we don't know the kind of car they drive, this should be a crime right?  When it comes to registries, it is far more about publicity than it is about safety, especially the safety of children.   You want to keep your child safe?  Educate them, teach them about the cruel world we live in, that competition is a real thing and that there are no points for second place, just the drive to want to do better next time.   Registries are as stupid as participation trophies, they are both meaningless and hide the truth.  The truth about registries is that they are so diluted with little to no risk offenders that the nefarious ones will slip through the cracks and have.   The same truth can be said about those participation trophies, they show only that you showed up, not that that you did anything once you got there.  Personally I believe that there is more to life than just 'showing up'. 
The list while short and incomplete, would be a good start to making our country less the incarceration nation that we are today.  Yeah I'm sure we'll beat the planet in number of incarcerated citizens per capita, but if we can begin reducing that number with new initiatives and implementing solutions rather than creating more problems we'd be a pretty good place to live and visit again. 

It's Time to Reduce, Reconstruct, Reclassify, Rethink and Reform the Virginia Sex Offender Registry: May 2017 U.S. Sex Offender Map from National Cente...

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