Sunday, March 27, 2016

OR Editorial: Bad neighbor policy


Call it cruel irony.

With all the political chest-thumping about alleged criminals and rapists pouring across the U.S. border from Mexico, a sex offender deported by Canadian officials quietly settled in Oregon in suburban Toledo — only to be charged with raping a child.

Kenneth Hall, 51, is locked up in the Lucas County jail after being charged and indicted by a county grand jury on two felony counts each of rape, pandering sexually oriented material involving a minor, and gross sexual imposition.

Prosecutors allege in court documents that Hall last year engaged in sexual conduct with a victim less than 10 years old.
 Navarre Navarre

Oregon Police Chief Mike Navarre is outraged, as all of us should be, but not just at the crime.

Here’s why: Oregon police detectives found in their investigation that Hall — an American citizen — was convicted in 1996 for a sexual offense involving a child in Calgary, served two years in a Canadian prison, and then was deported to the United States in 1998.

And nobody warned them.

If Hall had been convicted in this country his name would be on a sex-offender registry. That might have prevented him from allegedly committing another sexual offense with a child. But because of Canada’s very aggressive privacy laws, Hall’s past criminal conviction was not shared with law enforcement officers in this country.

That is insane.

Children were not protected when they might have been because of privacy?

Surely this is a false choice.

According to a story in last Sunday’s Blade by police reporter Ryan Dunn, Canadian law enforcement maintains a database listing criminal sex offenders, but that database is not made public in Canada and, this is even crazier, it cannot be accessed by law enforcement outside of Canada.


Canada does not share the records they keep?

What’s the point of keeping them?

Daniel Brodsky, a criminal defense lawyer in Toronto and co-editor of a book published in Canada about legal issues involving sexual offenders, told The Blade that if sex offenders’ identities became widely available, residents would frequently encroach on their privacy.

Good grief. Perhaps that is so. But can we not tell the police? Would giving the police a heads up really constitute “wide availability”? Would it really encroach on civil liberties? What about public health and safety? What about protecting the vulnerable?

Chief Navarre is still shaking his head. He says Canadian officials should have informed his department that Hall had moved to Oregon, so law enforcement officers here could have placed him on the American sex-offender registry and kept an eye on him. That’s just common sense, neighborliness, and good public safety policy.

“There’s really no easy solution to this, but doing nothing I don’t think is the right answer,” Chief Navarre said.

Well and ultimately put. We don’t need to build a wall between the United States and Canada to keep the bad guys out, but we do need the Canadian police to tell us when bad guys are coming our way so our police can do their jobs.

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"When an American says that he loves his country, he means not only that he loves the New England hills, the prairies glistening in the sun, the wide and rising plains, the great mountains, and the sea. He means that he loves an inner air, an inner light in which freedom lives and in which a man can draw the breath of self-respect."
~Adlia Stevenson U.S. Vice President (1893–1897) and Congressman (1879–1881)

On a Personal Note

Thanks for the opportunity to express my thoughts regarding the issue of citizens’ rights, particularly addressing certain sex offenders’ crimes that do not fit the devastating, inequitable and endless punishment given.

As you know, many young men and women lives across the nation are being destroyed by incarceration, life-time registry and restrictive laws that do more harm than good. For those individuals, there is no second chance.

Below is a personal letter to President Obama:
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“Dear President Obama,

I truly agree with your sentiments that individuals, such as ex-felons, should be able to receive a second chance at life. Since we all know that one can veer off that path of life and travel along rough, rocky terrain, sometimes running off and ending up in some ditch. We all have made our fill of mistakes and sometimes those held a costly consequence that changed life forever. So we lived through it, trying harder to make things right with family, friends and those around us, but what about those who aren’t able to make things right even if they tried…because they’re labeled as too dirty, a leper, a person who is rejected from society and home.

But what if they’re a seventeen year old and had sex with a fifteen year old, consensual at that? Or they’re a teen that had gotten so enraged after a breakup that he sent out naked pictures of his girlfriend on his cell phone or email? Or an individual urinates where someone just happens to see them?

All are wrong and a travesty but do they deserve the life of no second chance with a registry that ends all. They are labeled, no jobs, no where to live…they have been deemed a menace to society, a plague. These certain circumstances, and many other situations similar to these, I believe still deserve a second change.

Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

After my son’s early release and two years of prison, I thought I had handled that fact graciously knowing after serving his time he would be able to get that fresh start, that second chance. He was an exemplary inmate, GED, college courses and vocational classes. Little did I know that a second chance on the outside was the farthest from the truth? He now struggles and lives in a trailer park sharing a trailer with another and surrounded by others in the same rocking boat, one to float endlessly in shark infested waters. I see him little because of probation requirements (he couldn’t live with us because we were 800 feet near a school). My family is afraid of what would happen to them if he lived with them…vigilantism. My son has no other place to stay since others condemn him of his crime that is screamed from the highest rooftop. Sex offender, sex offender!

Not all sex offenders are pedophiles or predators but some are simply young kids that make one stupid and rash decision that eventually changes everything, and they have no idea what they’ve done until their life is never their own. Exactly, where is that second chance for those sex-offenders who are lumped together with pedophiles and predators? Now, it makes me sick to think of my son’s future and many like him that are on the registry and many with no second chance…ever. I am asking you as a mother and as another concerned citizen of the United States that these laws are looked at again and taken into serious consideration in what they are doing to the Constitution of the United States, not for sex offenders in general but the future rights of every citizen, before anymore are put into effect. They unjustly strip an offender of their rights and place them in a guillotine that can be easily set off by anyone and at anytime. Where is the second chance for ex-sex offenders in the present, pending and future laws?”
* * * *
What truly saddens me is the weakness and deterioration of what the sex offense issue is doing to our once, great nation. Across Europe, others are seeing the injustice and disregard of rights, but we ignore this problem and it makes me wonder where humanity is heading….

We have become a hysterical society in which our latest witch-hunt is a sex offender--no matter his/her crime.

Below is a email sent from a foreign advocate to a father of a sex offender:
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“The tragic story of your son's death is just so sad that it's difficult to explain how. It was very hard to read your letters. It seems almost unbelievable that this can take place in a democracy! From our point of view, there is no justice in this. Not in any way: not for you, your son, the former girl friend – or even the state.

It is an abusive legal system. It seems barbaric. And we are so very sorry that this takes place. That's why it's so important for us to try to neutralize the debate with this…, hopefully making some changes. ….. to show the every day life of the sex offenders, trying to show how they keep on being punished, even after served prison time…..But we will for sure tell the story of the injustice that your son has been exposed to.”
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I appreciate everyone's commitment and backing to protect everyone's civil rights, plainly as noted in the Constitution of the United States and is presupposed, giving ALL men are “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.”