Leland Yee and the Hypocrisy of Crime

Leland YeeIn 2012 California State Senator Leland Yee, who appeared before San Francisco Superior Court in shackles this morning, accomplished one of his long term legislative goals with the passage of Senate Bill 9. This law gives a second chance to most killers who were under the age of 18 at the time of their crime and sentenced to life without parole. They can ask the court for a new sentencing hearing. At that hearing, they will have the chance of getting a new sentence with the possibility of parole.

 

The Senator spoke eloquently about the resilience of youth when he said, “Young people have an incredible capacity for rehabilitation. Sentencing them to life without parole is tantamount to simply throwing them away, without acknowledging their ability to grow, change, and become productive members of society.” What the Senator failed to mention is that unrepentant killers, who were sentenced to life without parole by a jury of their peers would be released back onto our streets with few if any controls on their future behavior.

 

“Young people often make mistakes, and sometimes those mistakes have terrible consequences,” said Yee.” Yes Senator, lives are lost, families are destroyed, and many will never recover, but to define cold blooded murder as a mistake is to misunderstand the consequences of the one crime whose outcome is finality. Mistakes can be reconciled, and oftentimes they can be resolved, but murder is different. There is no taking back, there is no resolution, there is only the terrible reality that a person who was loved, cherished and valued has been sent to a violent and early grave.

 

The Senator said that, “We cannot write any child off for the rest of their lives. We must at least give them the chance to atone and seek forgiveness for what they’ve done.” Well, this may very well be true, but why do we have to release them from prison in order for them to seek atonement and forgiveness? Aren’t these acts of compassion, thought and emotion? Aren’t atonement and forgiveness more easily earned through acts of self-sacrifice and isn’t self-sacrifice more easily achieved through introspection? The Senator is very quick to forgive the killer as he forgets the victim.

 

Now it all begins to make sense. Charges against Senator Yee included conspiracy to deal firearms without a license and to illegally import firearms. Perhaps is eloquence on behalf of teen killers was simply protecting his real constituents, the gang banger’s who use illegal high caliber weapons to wreak havoc on our fellow citizens.

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I have a friend whose wife was murdered by a teen-aged psychopath who wanted to know what it felt like to “murder somebody.” After he was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole he swore that if he ever got out of prison he would murder the rest of this victim’s family. Senator Yee’s SB 9 will give him an opportunity to do just that.

 

Thank you for your service Senator Leland Yee.

Victim Advocates Visit Capitol to Seek Legislative Support for At-Risk Youth

By Meghan Moroney

003Members of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, national anti-crime organization of police chiefs, sheriffs, district attorneys and victim advocates with 400 members in California and close to 5,000 members nationwide, visited the Capitol today to urge legislators and administration officials to support evidence-based programs proven to keep children in school and away from crime.

 

Marc Klaas and Krystine Dinh of The KlaasKids Foundation, and Dr. Griffin Dix of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, joined other Fight Crime: Invest in Kids California members in meetings with over 20 key policymakers and administration officials.

 

“Getting kids prepared for success in school, and then keeping them in the classroom and on track to graduate are two of the most effective ways to keep our streets and communities safe,” said Fight Crime: Invest in Kids California State Director Brian Lee. “We’re fortunate to have so many law enforcement leaders and victim advocates as members who recognize this and work to support policies and funding for programs that help keep kids off the streets and away from crime.”

 

Members of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids California called on legislators from both sides of the aisle to increase state funding for programs scientifically proven to steer kids away from crime, such as high-quality early education and dropout prevention strategies that address truancy and chronic absence. It is estimated that a 10-percentage-point increase in high school graduation rates would reduce violent crimes by 20 percent, and could prevent 400 murders and 20,000 aggravated assaults.
Research shows that kids who receive high-quality early education and care are more likely to graduate from high school and less likely to ever become involved in crime. Fight Crime: Invest in Kids California members asked lawmakers to support SB 837, a bill authored by Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg that would make early education available to all 4-year-olds by expanding the state’s transitional kindergarten program.

 

Fight Crime: Invest in Kids California members also asked lawmakers to support AB 1866 (Bocanegra), which would help identify early warning signs for dropout by tracking school attendance in CALPADS, the state’s longitudinal student data system. California in one of just four states that does not tracked individualized school attendance.

 

For kids already involved in the juvenile justice system, intensive family therapies, such as Functional Family Therapy (FFT) and Multisystemic Therapy (MST), have been shown to cut re-arrests by as much as 50 percent. The Mentally Ill Offender Crime Reduction (MIOCR) program used to support these evidenced-based therapy programs, yet funding for the program was eliminated several years ago. Members of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids California encouraged policymakers to support SB 1054 (Steinberg) which would restore the MIOCR program and provide $50 million for MIOCR grants, evenly divided between juveniles and adults.

Missing: What To Do If Your Child Disappears!

KlaasDVD

Your child is missing. You are confused, even panicked. What do you do? Every case is different and the timeline escalation listed below is dependent upon your unique situation. Pick and choose carefully, but remember: Never Give Up Hope!

 

  1. Take a few minutes to collect your thoughts. Could your child be hiding or with other family members of friends?  This is a good time to conduct a cursory search and contact relevant parties.
  2. If you have a missing child smart phone app (Polly’s Guardian Angel) you should activate a missing alert. Among other things this will immediately alert others application holders in your immediate vicinity.
  3. Immediately call (911) and all other local law enforcement agencies. This should include the city police or county sheriff, and the State Police. If you have one, present your child’s Sentry KIDS Bio-document to the responding officer. Insist that they enter the information into the National Crime Information Computer (NCIC) at once.
  4. If predatory abduction is a real possibility notify the Federal Bureau of Investigation. FBI experience and resources are unsurpassed in law enforcement.
  5. Create a local media (TV Stations, Radio Stations, and Newspapers) contact list. Notify all local media assignment desks. You are your missing child’s best advocate so work with the Media – keep in mind that the public’s awareness about your missing child could be expedited if you share pictures, videos and other details.
  6. Create a social media campaign to inform the public about your missing child. Create a Facebook page that includes photos, videos, articles and links to television segments. If these elements do not yet exist they can be easily inserted after the fact. Also, create a Twitter feed that directs the public to your other social media profiles. This is the fastest and least expensive way to get the word out.
  7. Contact the KlaasKids Foundation’ Search Center for Missing Children.  Our services are free of charge. Our center will assist you with flyer creation, distribution and creating an action plan.
  8. If you have a home (landline) phone make sure that it is staffed and is being traced at all times. Do not turn off your cell phone: even when charging.
  9. Find a printer. Volunteers will help you to post flyers in highly visible areas.
  10. Your best chance of recovery is to encourage a coordinated response effort by law enforcement; media; your child find agency; and volunteers.
  11. Take care to preserve your physical well-being. Seek emotional and psychological support from your church or social service agencies. Make sure that you sleep and eat regularly. Refrain from alcohol or other mind altering substances.
  12. Remember – Never Give up Hope!

Child Safety in the 21st Century

Child Safety

Introduction

The Internet has changed the rules. Back in the day, children had to beware of predators lurking in alleys, dark stairwells, in and around parks and schoolyards. Those concerns still exist, but the Internet has emboldened a new generation of cyber-perverts who rely upon anonymity and subterfuge to engage their evil intentions.

 

While the vast majority of people were marveling at the potential and benefits of the Internet, a small subset of individuals were pursuing the dark side of cyber space: networking with each other and empowering amoral behavior; re-invigorating the near dormant child pornography industry; and lurking behind false profiles as they attempted to lure, groom, and victimize our children. The very predators who could not penetrate our dead bolts, alarm systems, guard dogs or personal armories had found a back alley into our living rooms under the camouflage of binary code and new world technology.

 

The problem has become so alarming that an instant message stating that, “I am a twelve-year-old-boy home alone and I want to have sex with you,” is enough to launch and deliver a convoy of white and blue collar pedophiles willing to risk everything to satisfy uncontrollable  urges. While we basked in a false sense of security the family living room became the predator’s new playground.

 

Strangers Are Not the Problem

Stranger danger is a misleading concept from a time when we did not understand child victimization. In fact, the vast majority of children are harmed by somebody they know: a teacher, clergy member, family friend or even a family member.

Do

  1. Always check with your parents before you go anywhere. – This is especially important if you don’t have a cell phone. Parents need to have access to their kids in case of emergencies, missed curfews, or other unforetold circumstances.
  2. Always be with at least one other person when you are outside. – There is strength in numbers. This is also called the buddy system. You look out for your buddy, and your buddy looks out for you.
  3. Trust your feelings. – This is called instinct. Sometimes, we all get a feeling that something is not as it should be.
  4. If something feels wrong, put distance between yourself and whatever is making you feel uneasy. – Acting on your instinct is ingrained in animals as well as humans. Instinct is a primal reaction to circumstance. It is not based upon experience.
  5. Strangers can help kids in danger. – The vast majority of so called strangers would gladly help a child in distress. Kids can always approach a woman or group of women. Even other kids will protect you if you are in need of protection. The same thing goes with men, but unfortunately, they tend to be the problem.

Don’t

  1. Accept invitations from or cultivate relationships with adults without checking with you parents first. – Stick with age appropriate relationships. Adults who forge special friendships with kids are suspect.  We know that people with unhealthy designs on children will go to extremes to gain unsupervised access to children in their volunteerism or career choices.
  2. Open the door to anyone when you are home alone. – A young child isolated and alone is no match for a determined predator or anyone else who wishes harm.
  3. Tell anyone that you are home alone. – Keep all doors and windows locked. Only answer phone calls from family members and check-in with your parents on a regular basis.
  4. Play in isolated areas. – Avoid alleys, dark stairwells, and other places that isolate or may trap you.

 

The Internet Is Here to Stay

The Internet affords tremendous benefits and enables monumental abuses. If we are going to ensure that the World Wide Web does not become a virtual Wild Wild West we have to aggressively engage those who would abuse it.  But, by linking arms and working toward a common goal, we can ensure that our kid’s online experience is empowering, positive and safe.

Do

  1. Have fun with the Internet – experiment, email, chat, surf, research, play games, and create social networking profiles so that you can communicate with your friends. Just be careful about doing so.
  2. Trust your parents – Talk to them about your Internet experience, follow their rules, and allow them to monitor your online activities.
  3. Inform your parents if you see violent or pornographic images – These may be illegal images, and are certainly not intended for the eyes of children.
  4. Stay on public, monitored, child friendly rooms if you are using instant messaging or entering chat rooms. – Predators have the advantage because they are anonymous on the Internet. Remember, not everybody is who they say they are.

Don’t

  1. Share personal information. – Your identity, your address, school, phone number, passwords, etc. should never be shared with people that you don’t know in real life. Predators and rogue marketers can use this information against you.
  2. Make your social networking profiles public. – By sharing social networking profiles only with your friends you are ensuring the integrity of your friends and the validity of their profiles.
  3. Don’t reply to or start a conversation with people you don’t know. – Don’t accept gifts from them or agree to meet with them.
  4. It is a terrible idea to open email attachments from people that you do not know. – They may contain viruses or malware.
  5. Plagiarize – It is cheating to copy other people’s ideas and pass them off as your own.

 

Summary

There is no silver bullet that will end crimes against children. Legislation alone will never fully protect children on the street, in their bedrooms or online. Law enforcement does not have the resources to simultaneously and constantly patrol every community, and online decoy stings will never totally eradicate the black heart of a predator. By itself street surveillance and Internet technology cannot contain evil intention. Education and awareness, in the classroom or at home, will only go so far toward protecting kids, because kids are vulnerable by nature of who they are.

 

It is our responsibility as adults to take the steps necessary to protect our kids. We can accomplish that goal by organizing our neighborhoods to protect our children and our property. Support legislators that understand the importance of punishing violent criminals and providing resources for at risk children. Volunteer with and donate to organizations that are dedicated to ensuring that children are provided with opportunities to thrive and prosper. Utilize technology solutions and Internet tools designed to assist you in protecting children from inherent danger. Be a good citizen and report suspicious individuals and circumstances to the police. Show your children areas to avoid like alleys and dark stairwells, and show them the best routes to and from school. Finally, remember that we cannot put the burden of child safety on the shoulders of the children.