This Will Blow Your Mind!

Libra Tatt2

Compliments of Crime Victims United of California

Prisons are more crowded than ever and crime is on the rise for the first time in the 21st Century. Many point the finger directly at California’s Criminal Justice Realignment Program that has been in effect since October, 2011. Realignment shifts responsibility from the state to counties for the custody, treatment, and supervision of individuals convicted of specified non-violent, non-serious, and non-sex crimes. The counties are ill-equipped to take on these massive new case-loads, and as a result criminals who should be incarcerated are instead walking our streets. More than 500 felony crimes qualify as non-violent, non-serious, and non-sexual. Here are some of them:

 

Vehicle Felonies

  • Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated
  • Involuntary manslaughter
  • Fourth offense DUI
  • Reckless driving causing bodily injury
  • DUI-related reckless driving resulting in specified serious injuries
  • Evading a peace officer while driving the wrong way
  • Willfully or negligently causing a train crash by an engineer

 

Mass Destruction Felonies

  • Possession of bomb-making component substances with the intent to make a destructive device
  • Possession, exploding, igniting a destructive device or explosive with intent to injure or intimidate or destroy property
  • Possession of specified restricted biological agents
  • Exploding a destructive device with intent to injure, intimidate, or to wrongfully destroy or injure property

 

Drug Felonies

  • Importation, transportation of a controlled substance
  • Sale of controlled substance on school grounds
  • Sale of controlled substance to a minor under 14 in a public park
  • Barricading a building to prevent law enforcement entry of a place used to sell heroin, PCP, methamphetamine, crack cocaine, etc.
  • Manufacturer of a controlled substance who illegally disposes of hazardous chemical byproducts
  • Possession for sale of PCP
  • Trafficking in heroine, crack cocaine, cocaine, methamphetamine, or PCP within 1,000 feet of a drug treatment center
  • Possession of specified chemicals with intent to manufacture PCP
  • Possession of specified chemicals with intent to manufacture methamphetamine

 

Medical Felonies

  • Sexual relations with two or more clients/patients by physicians and surgeons, psychotherapists, or drug abuse counselors
  • Practicing dentistry without a license under circumstances creating a risk of great bodily harm, serious physical or mental illness, or death
  • Practicing medicine without a license
  • Prescription drug forgery
  • Wholesaler, manufacture, or employee of same furnishing a controlled substance for other than legitimate medical purposes
  • Counterfeiting prescription forms

 

Firearm Felonies

  • Felony violations of the gun-free school zone act of 1995
  • Firearms-related violations within a playground or youth center
  • Bringing specified deadly weapons onto school grounds
  • Brandishing a firearm in a threatening manner while an occupant of a motor vehicle
  • Unauthorized possession or transport of a machinegun
  • Manufacture, sale of assault weapons

 

Miscellaneous Felonies

  • Mutilating, maliciously destroying, etc. a veterans’ memorial
  • Child abandonment
  • Hazing resulting in serious bodily injury
  • Manufacturing counterfeit birth certificates
  • Felony identity theft
  • Mortgage fraud
  • Insurance fraud
  • Felony animal abuse
  • Felony dog fighting and related offenses
  • Financial aspects of elder abuse
  • Inciting a riot which results serious bodily injury
  • Participation in an act of lynching
  • Conspiracy to commit a crime against the president, vice-president, any governor, any U.S. Justice or judge, or secretary of any of the federal executive departments
  • Battery against a peace officer, firefighter, EMT, probation officer, etc.
  • Involuntary servitude (i.e., holding someone in slavery)
  • Hate crimes
  • Second violation of domestic violence-related protective order
  • Statutory rape (this is only a felony where there is a specified age disparity between the defendant and the victim)
  • Grand theft
  • Knowingly selling firearms to criminal street gang members, knowing that the firearm will be used to commit a felony

A Knife in the Back for Justice

In September 2012, Governor Brown signed a law (SB 9) that will grant freedom to killers previously sentenced prison sentences of life without the possibility of parole (LWOP).

 

The letter informs the recipient that the law has been changed retroactively, allowing the killer of their loved one, who had previously been sentenced to LWOP to potentially receive a new sentencing hearing. That hearing may result in the immediate release from prison of remorseless and vicious killers.

 

What about promises made to victim families that justice had been served? What about those people who were told that they need not be concerned about retribution because their testimony would lock a remorseless killer in prison forever?

 

What ever happened to justice?

 

M

LWOP

 

The Re-Victimization of Innocents: Criminal Justice Run Amok!

Murder Victim Andi Brewer

Murder Victim Andi Brewer

Karl Roberts was 35-years-old on May 15, 1999 when he kidnapped, raped and murdered his 12-year-old niece Andi Brewer. His defense was based on a head injury he suffered when he was 12-years-old and lost 15% of his brain, including a portion tied to the ability to understand consequences for one’s actions. The Prosecutor said he knew right from wrong. The jury sided with the prosecution and convicted Roberts of capital murder.

 

During the sentencing phase of his 2000 trial Roberts declared that, “I want to die.” The judge agreed and sentenced him to death. After the trial he waived his rights to appeal. On May 22, 2003 an automatic appeal resulted in the Arkansas Supreme Court upholding the death sentence by a 6-1 decision.

 

Hours before he was to be executed in January 2004, Roberts changed his mind and authorized his attorneys to appeal his conviction. A judge later issued a stay of execution. His attorneys argued that “no relevant or contemporaneous mental evaluation” was conducted when Roberts waived his right to appeal, therefore his appeal was invalid. On Valentine’s Day 2013, Andi’s mother sat through yet another hearing on the merits of Roberts’ latest claim.

 

Perhaps you can imagine the anger that shattered her heart when the Arkansas Supreme Court unanimously agreed with her daughter’s cold blooded killer and reopened the case. I can, because Rebecca DeMauro has been my friend since shortly after her daughter was murdered. She is correctly apoplectic about the fact that the state criminal justice system has allowed Roberts and his defense team to re-victimize her family as they dredge up the horrific and painful memories of little Andi’s tragedy over and over and over.

Murder Victim Travis Alexander

Murder Victim Travis Alexander

Jodi Arias is on trial in Maricopa County, Arizona for the brutal June 4, 2008 murder of ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander. Her story has changed several times. Initially, she told investigators that she knew nothing about the crime. When confronted with evidence to the contrary she said that she was there, but intruders had broken into Travis’ condo and committed the horrific murder. By the time her trial began Arias’ story had changed yet again. Now, she is claiming self-defense.

 

In a scheme obviously concocted by Jodi and her able bodied defense team, Arias has spent more than 8-days on the witness stand thoroughly and in great detail assassinating the character of her murder victim. Despite absolutely no evidence to back up her claims she has accused Alexander of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Tragically, he is not able to defend himself because he is dead: he was shot in the face; stabbed 27-times; and nearly decapitated when his throat was slit from side to side.

 

Travis Alexander’s family and friends pack the court every day. Many have come from California at their own expense to represent their beloved Trevor in the courtroom. They listen with disgust and anger as Jodi’s lawyers lead her through the sewer of her memories…or is it her cold calculation? Unfortunately, Travis’ family cannot respond: they cannot defend Travis’ memory. All they can do is sit stoically, avoid eye contact with the jury, and choke back the screams of outrage that must remain stuck at the back of their throats. If they act out in any capacity they might provide grounds for a mistrial, and then they will have to sit through it all over again: the lies, the accusations, and the character assassination!

Altar Boys

Altar Boys

Shana Rowan is the Executive Director of USA FAIR, a non-profit organization she founded that is dedicated to defending the indefensible: registered sex offenders. According to her official biography, Shana’s passion for registered sex offenders is personal and very close to her heart. She is engaged to marry a registered sex offender named Geoff. His support gave Shana the strength she needed to leave a long-term abusive relationship. Now his past is making it impossible for them to move on with their lives.

 

In her biography Ms. Rowan recounts his criminal behavior and portrays her fiancé as the true victim and she totally dismisses the very young half-sister that he serially abused. She argues that she and Geoff are victims of bad policy, and that sex offender registration and community notification laws (Megan’s Law) punish hundreds of thousands for crimes that a very small percentage of people might commit. She forgets that each and every person on the sex offender registration list has been convicted of, not committed as there is a vast distinction, at least one sex crime, almost always against a child or a woman.

 

Citing studies that demonstrate that sex offenders have a very low recidivism rate Ms. Rowan ignores the best known study of all: the long running Catholic Sex Abuse Scandal. For years, decades or perhaps centuries, high level Church leaders were aware that pedophile priests lurked in dioceses all over the world abusing young children. It was standard practice that pedophile priests, when found out, would be routinely shuffled between parishes and allowed to have continued, unsupervised access to children who they continued to serially rape. After years of investigation the Catholic Priest scandal exploded around the globe. The most significant finding is that cases worldwide reflect patterns of long-term abuse and the covering up and protecting of sex offenders. Given the opportunity, preferential sex offenders will continue to abuse children under the cloak of anonymity.

 

Megan’s Law is about denying perverts the cloak of anonymity. Each and every young victim, including Geoff’s victim, require years and years of psychological, emotional, and spiritual counseling. Many are hard pressed to put their lives back together, and all endure shame and guilt. Sex offender laws are not about punishing misunderstood men for youthful discretions, they are about protecting children and women from a known threat. Megan’s Law puts a public face on heinous crimes that for most of our history have been America’s dirty little secret.

 

Each of these three specific situations was enabled by institutions designed to protect and/or nurture the public. Victims and their families are being re-victimized in acceptable, status-quo ways. In one case, the Arkansas State Supreme Court has sided with an admitted baby rapist/killer and his American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) led legal team. Jodi Arias and her defense team decided that her road to redemption is to completely vilify the man she brutally murdered, despite evidence to the contrary. Finally, Shana Rowan cites the ACLU and other so-called social justice organizations as justification for her misguided bloviating.

 

 

Some Things Never Change

The following article first appeared in Coronet Magazine, August 1946

Coronet Magazine, August 1946

Coronet Magazine, August 1946

“A heartbroken father, his voice trembling with grief and terror, went on the air.  Sobbingly he pleaded with the kidnapper who had snatched his daughter from her bed the night before.  He begged him not to harm the child.  He would do anything — anything at all — if only his little girl was returned home, safe and sound.

 

For weeks newspapers followed the case, reporting every minor development of the ensuing manhunt.  Finally, newsboys were hawking murder headlines that shocked and angered every American.  The missing child had not been kidnapped for ransom.  She had been abused and butchered.  Her kidnapper had been a sex criminal—a depraved prowler who had stolen her from her bed and then had tried to hide his crime by killing a helpless child.

 

Frantic parents asked for extra patrols around their homes.  Americans were aroused, angry, infuriated–and never was anger more justified.  No wonder Americans rage and fume every time shocking headlines meet their eyes.  It is ever present, terribly real, and deadly serious.  It should not only make us angry–it should keep us angrily determined to fight the menace until the solution is finally reached.  For there is a solution: As the first step toward it, we must completely revise our present thinking about sex crimes and sex criminals.” 

More Evidence of Rising Crime Under Realignment

By Michael Rushford

cuffsWith the recent FBI release of preliminary crime statistics for the first six months of 2012, and continuing reports on local crime from news organizations and police agencies across the state, it is becoming increasingly clear that something happened in California last year that caused a sharp increase in virtually every major category of crime.  The FBI report found a small increase nationally in violent and property crime driven by larger increases in the West.  Since the sweeping changes in sentencing under Governor Jerry Brown’s Public Safety Realignment law took effect in October 2011, the California-based Criminal Justice Legal Foundation has been monitoring criminal activity across the state to gauge the law’s effect on public safety.

 

While the reports we have collected from local law enforcement agencies over the past year and the recent preliminary report from the FBI are not proof of a trend, they do show a large and abrupt, across-the-board increase in California crime rates which is disturbing.

 

The Criminal Justice League Foundation noted that, in a January 28, 2013 report, researchers at the University of Minnesota identified a downward national trend in crime, citing better technology and changing social dynamics.  In December, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg boasted that his city’s declining incarceration rate and improved policing had caused a dramatic decrease in major felonies.

FBI Preliminary Semi-Annual Uniform Crime Report

FBI Preliminary Semi-Annual Uniform Crime Report

The recent FBI report tells a different story.  Over the first six months of 2012, violent crime in New York City increased by 3.9% and property crime climbed 6.1%.  But not all large states saw increases, Florida and Texas, both of which have reduced some incarceration rates but maintain tough-on-crime sentencing policies, saw only slight increases or declining rates.  States which have been more aggressive at reducing the incarceration of felons, particularly along the West Coast have reversed the trend of reduced crime in recent years and saw rising rates of both violent and property crimes.

 

California’s increase has been the most dramatic.  The FBI report for 2011 had crime dropping in all categories compared to the previous year.  The preliminary report for 2012 shows significant increases.  In a February 3, 2013 Pasadena Star-News story, the Police Chiefs of Pasadena, Glendale, and Covina expressed their concerns about rising crime caused by Realignment.  “This is a dangerous public policy,” Glendale Police Chief Brian De Pompa told reporters.  “Without strong state prison accountability, it’s hard to control crime.”

 

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon disagrees.  His city has embraced the evidence-based rehabilitation and probation approach to most felons, an approach praised by the ACLU.  In a January 19, 2013 Los Angeles Daily News story, Gascon said, “I know that we cannot incarcerate our way out of this problem.”  Unfortunately, according to a January Associated Press story, the homicide rate in San Francisco increased by 36% last year, and the trend is continuing.  On January 1, 2013, documented gang member David Morales, 19, allegedly killed two people while being pursued by police in San Francisco.  Morales is suspected of having driven through a housing complex and shooting at three men.  Police matched the description of the vehicle involved in the shooting to Morales’s car.  Officers then tried to pull him over.  In the ensuing high-speed chase, Morales rammed into a car at an intersection and sent it spinning into a pedestrian.  Both the passenger of the car, 29-year-old Silvia Tuncun, and the pedestrian, 26-year-old Francisco Gutierrez, were killed.  Morales’s most recent conviction was in April 2012 for gang activity which, under Realignment, left him free on probation at the time of the killings .

 

Something happened in California last year that has caused a major shift in crime rates. Excuses by supporters of the Governor’s Realignment are of little comfort to Californians who have lost friends or loved ones to so-called ‘low-level’ felons left in our communities because of this dangerous law.

The Girl in the Bunker

 

For six-days murder suspect Jimmy Lee Dykes held five-year-old Ethan hostage in an underground bunker on his property in rural Alabama. Yesterday, concerned over Dykes’ increasingly erratic behavior, the authorities stormed the bunker, killed the sixty-five-year old hostage taker, and saved the child. I believe that there are definite and important reasons that this tense situation received little publicity and remained low key until after it concluded.

Alabama+Kidnapper's+Bunker

Jimmy Lee Dykes Underground Bunker

In 2006, fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Shouf was kidnapped after getting off of the school bus near her home in Lugoff, SC. The kidnapper, who gained Elizabeth’s trust by posing as a police officer, was thirty-six-year-old Vinson Filyaw. He quickly handcuffed Elizabeth, placed a bomb around her neck and threatened to blow her up if she tried to escape. He marched the high school student to an underground bunker where he imprisoned her for ten-days. 

elizabeth_shoaf

Elizabeth Shouf

While similar in many respects the cases differ in important ways. The authorities did not know that Elizabeth was being held captive in an underground bunker, in Alabama the authorities knew where the bunker was and even opened up a line of communication with the perpetrator. Filyaw was a sex criminal, Dykes was not. Both bunkers were wired for electricity.

 

The only reason Elizabeth Shoaf is alive today is because she was smarter, more resourceful and clever than her captor. Although he repeatedly threatened to kill her she remained cool and collected. She devised a strategy to stay alive. She gained his trust through feigned friendship and interest in his life and wellbeing. He began to see her first as a person, and then as a love interest. Filyaw began to believe that they would have a life together.

 

Between bouts of abuse Filyaw allowed Elizabeth to watch television, so she was aware that the authorities were looking for her. Ultimately, she convinced him to let her use his cell phone to play video games. On the seventh day of her captivity she was able to text her mother. Elizabeth described hearing trucks and machinery, and mentioned that she was in a hole.

 

Kershaw County police released the text message to the media, and Elizabeth watched that report with her captor. An enraged Filyaw realized that Elizabeth had betrayed his trust. Still, she kept her cool and advised him to get as far away from her as possible. Ultimately, he did and after ten days in the underground pit Elizabeth was rescued.

 

The lessons of Elizabeth’s captivity were learned and practiced in Alabama. The authorities limited information and tried their best to appease Jimmy Lee Dykes. The media was very careful not to provide any information that Dykes could use to harm little Ethan. They also downplayed the event so as not to further enrage the maniacal kidnapper. Ethan’s family praised Dykes for taking such good care of their child.

 

The police, media and public played their hands perfectly and a little boy is alive and beginning his road to recovery. However, I believe that Elizabeth Shoaf’s courage was also a huge factor in the successful recovery of the little boy in the bunker.

Boy in the Bunker

UntitledOn January 29, 2013 retired long haul trucker Jimmy Lee Dykes boarded a school bus returning children home after school and demanded two young boys. When bus driver Charles Poland put himself between the interloper and the children Dykes shot him to death. He then kidnapped a five-year-old child, known only as Ethan, and took him into an underground bunker on his property. He was holed up in the bunker with the boy until today. This afternoon authorities raided the bunker, killed Dykes and rescued Ethan.

 

This would seem like the perfect conclusion to a tense ordeal that could have ended much more tragically. Although he was not physically harmed, little Ethan witnessed the violent death of two individuals, and was held prisoner in a small underground fortress with a bitter and angry man for nearly a week. What happens to crime victims after the TV Trucks coil the cable, lower the microwave antennas and move onto the next crime de jour? After all, he is a fragile little child who has endured more trauma than most people can imagine. Of course his path to normalcy is fraught with challenges.

 

I have crossed paths with many remarkable people these past twenty years, but few have inspired or awed me more than Alicia Kozakiewicz, Midsi Sanchez, or Elizabeth Shoaf. These amazing young women have not only triumphed over their own kidnapping/hostage situations, they have used that experience to build strength, resolve and focus.

 

Eight-year-old Midsi Sanchez was walking home from school in Vallejo, California on August 12, 2000 when she was kidnapped and chained to the filthy floorboard of a car. Forty-four hours later she took advantage of an opportunity, unlocked her shackles and escaped into the protective arms of a passing truck driver. Her kidnapper was later linked to the death of other young girls in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. Midsi endured bullying in school, descended into alcohol and cheated death yet again, when at sixteen-she was in a near fatal car crash. Upon learning that she was pregnant while in the hospital, Midsi vowed to change her ways. These past years the devoted mother of a three-year-old toddler has been an invaluable KlaasKids Foundation volunteer and advocate for missing child. She has been profiled on numerous news magazines and talk shows.

 

On New Year’s Day 2002, thirteen-year-old Alicia Kozakiewicz was lured into the clutches of an internet predator. Five-days later the Western Pennsylvania Crimes Against Children Task Force located, rescued and reunited Alicia with her very relieved parents. Alicia has since testified before federal and state legislative committees about Internet safety. She is the driving force behind Alicia’s Law which, among other things, strives to provide permanent funding for Internet Crimes Against Children taskforces. Alicia continues to make frequent appearances on broadcast and cable news magazines and leads the Alicia Project which is dedicated to protecting other children from the online victimization.

 

Elizabeth Shoaf was fourteen-years-old when she was kidnapped by a registered sex offender posing as a police officer on September 6, 2006 after getting off of the school bus near her home in Lugoff, South Carolina. Her kidnapper walked her into the woods and imprisoned her in an underground bunker. Ten-days later Elizabeth completely outwitted her tormenter and engineered her own escape.  I met her earlier this year on the set of the Ricki Lake Show, one of many television programs she has appeared on to tell her story.

 

The path to recovery has been difficult for each of these young ladies, but each has found ways to triumph over their own demons. Counseling, prayer, family have engaged each of them to varying degrees. But, it was coming to terms with their own victimization and deciding to use their experience as a cautionary tale for other children that led them to the light. Midsi, Alicia, and Elizabeth are empowered young ladies who positive and productive in their lives. Let us hope that Ethan too will find a way to beat the devil.