Friday, 21 July 2017


To most people, it’s a great idea especially if the criminal is a convicted rapist or child molester. I can appreciate the feelings of non-criminals living in the community. But suppose the criminal was convicted of shoplifting or passing bad cheques. Should such criminals be prohibited from living in your community?

Here is another question to ponder. Suppose the convicted criminal is married and he and his wife have two children. Do you still think he should be banned from living in your community?  If so, then why would you punish his family by banning the wife from her husband and the children from their father?  I know what you are thinking. Let them move elsewhere. Is that fair, especially since their children are in the middle of their school year? As you can see, not all questions can be answered with conviction of your answers.

Many years ago I was asked to speak at a community meeting about a possible group home for young male offenders being built next to a park in a small section of a city in which the residents lived in luxurious homes. The residents were for the most part, against the concept. In my speech, I agreed with their concerns. The community was too small to have young offenders mingling with the children already living in the community. The proposal of the government was cancelled and the group home was built in a larger community. 

There are almost 800,000 federally registered sex offenders in the U.S. That registry originated in the 1990s when Congress passed legislation that severely targeted those who commit violent crimes and crimes against children. But states have their own varying laws in which Florida’s law being some of the most stringent. Sexual offenders in the state must notify public officials whenever they move; they’re subject to a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew; and they can’t live within at least 1,000 feet of a school, day care center, park, playground or any other place where children often gather. Those restrictions, many victims’ families argue, are necessary to prevent sex offenders from engaging in further criminal activity.
As everybody now knows, sex offenders have a rough time of it after they get out of prison. If you are a registered sex offender in the United States, you lose your right to choose where you want to live. By law, your previous history doesn't matter nor does the nature of your crime or your excuse matter. You are exiled from society, and only a few communities will welcome you.
More than 90% of all employers in the United States conduct criminal background checks on applicants as reported in Michigan Law Journal. While the law does not prohibit an employer from inquiring about or even requiring information on convictions, the way this information is used can still be illegal. Many believe that applicants who have criminal convictions cannot be hired for jobs. This is entirely false. In most cases an outright ban of applicants with criminal convictions will not be upheld in court. An employer cannot use a conviction to bar someone from employment unless the conviction is for a crime that is directly related to the position’s duties. For example, a financial institution may bar individuals with embezzlement convictions from employment. However, they would not be able to justify barring individuals with marijuana possession convictions because it is not directly related to the duties of the position. A convicted child molester won’t be hired as a counsellor in a children’s camp. In fact in Canada, if a person wants to work with children, he must first get a certificate from the police department stating that he has no convictions re the abuse of children or a single child. Recently, a law was passed Canada that states that as of this year, any convictions of such abuse will remain in the federal registry for the remainder of the abuser’s life.

Many years ago, a man in Toronto applied for a job working in a factory alongside of women. When his potential employer learned that he had previously been convicted of rape, the offer of the job was cancelled. He sued the factory. The judge ordered the company to pay him thousands of dollars because they didn’t have the right to refuse him the job that he was qualified for since he had already paid for his crime when he spent several years in prison.

Most states in the U.S. have residency restrictions for convicted sex offenders, and as a result, after sex offenders leave prison they are often packed into the limited neighborhoods where they may live. For the most part, these limited neighbourhoods are where poor people live and also where crime thrives.

In some cases, the strict residency restrictions have caused more problems than they have solved. Many sex offenders cannot find housing in urban areas across the state and often are forced into homelessness. And as we all know, homelessness is prone to breed criminality.

There is a city in the U.S. that ordered all convicted sex offenders to live outside the city. A great many of them were forced to live under bridges in order to be protected from the rain and snow. I don`t care what their crimes were. They served their punishment in prison and now the city was punishing them again. That form of justice is counter-productive because it makes the ex-cons angry (and righty so) and having angry ex-cons roaming the streets is not in the best interests of the community. Homeless people resort to begging and forcing an ex-con to beg for money to buy food is terribly wrong.

What is in the best interests of the community is to give an ex-con a chance to find work and live in a decent home. When such ex-cons have those benefits, it is unlikely he will be willing to give that all up just to commit another crime. Some do but the majority of ex-cons who have a job and a home to live in aren`t willing to lose it all so they become crime free for the rest of their lives.

Residency restriction laws are a fairly new method some jurisdictions are using in an attempt to curb the actions of sex offenders. Alabama passed the first residency restriction law in 1996. The law was part of the state's Community Notification Act. It prohibited child molesters from living within 1,000 feet of a school. By January 2006, approximately 14 states had enacted residency restrictions. Moreover, some local governments have implemented their own residency restrictions. While this controversial residency law has raised questions of fairness and constitutionality, it is currently legal and valid. Some critics argue that it simply plays to the fears of the public which does little to actually curb sexual assaults.

Critics and supporters of residency restriction laws have watched Iowa's law with interest since its passage in 2002. The Iowa law applies to a "person who has committed a criminal offense against a minor, or an aggravated offense, sexually violent offense, or other relevant offense that involved a minor. According to the law, "A person shall not reside within two thousand feet of the real property comprising a public or non-public elementary or secondary school or a child care facility.`

A more pressing difficulty, however, is often finding a place to live. In some counties in Florida, sex offenders are banned from being within 3,000 feet of places where children congregate, such as schools and parks making living in most towns and cities virtually impossible.

Suppose the former sex offender`s family lives five hundred feet from the school and the former sex offender’s children go to that school. Do they all have to move out of that community thereby forcing the children go to another school during the second half of the school year?

Along southern Florida’s Muck City Road, southeast of the state’s massive Lake Okeechobee and hidden among hundreds of acres of sugar cane, sits Miracle Village that houses approximately 150 men. For decades, its tiny one-story residences housed migrants who worked the nearby sugar fields. Today, they house migrants of a different sort. Most of its residents are convicted sex offenders.

Curfew for some in Miracle Village is 7 p.m. Many residents have to wear GPS-monitored ankle bracelets that keep tabs on them at all times. They can’t interact with minors, even if they’re family. They’re subject to random drug tests. Some can’t use the Internet. Others can’t own a smartphone.

How about being ordered to move out of a state? Les Coffey stood at the Dade County border off Interstate 24 on December. 19,  2013 where he was recently banned. Coffey was banned from all four counties of the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit in the State of Georgia. He was classed as a a menace, an outlaw. In other words, he was supposedly a bad man. The judge told him to get out, and stay out and don’t come back.

For seven years, beginning in December 2013, Coffey cannot enter any of the four counties that make up the circuit: Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade and Walker. This, police say, is because he stole from someone, and because he indirectly damaged a road, a fire department and a water drainage system during another incident.

Coffey pleaded no contest to those charges in Walker County Superior Court on December 2, 2013. The banishment is a condition of that plea, a condition Coffey and many other defendants in Georgia have agreed to. If Coffey comes back to one of those four counties, police can arrest him for violating his probation.

Houston County is the banishment capital of Georgia which has banned more than 400 of its citizens. People get banished for all sorts of reasons. Child molesters, prostitutes and burglars get banished. So do drug dealers and drug users. So do people who get angry and threaten to hurt others.

Should judges be allowed to kick lawbreakers out of our towns, our counties, our states or provinces or even a lawbreaker’s country?  

Obviously it is justified if an immigrant commits a series of crimes or a serious crime should be kicked out of the country that accepted him or her as a resident of the country he is in.

Some law enforcement officials say banishing people like Coffey from a county or several counties is an effective punishment. Banishment pushes those criminals away from their old friends who are fellow criminals giving them a chance to start fresh. It also assures that victims never have to run into the criminals who hurt them. I don’t take issue with that form of treatment.

However, should banishment be applied if the person to be banished is a family man whose family lives in one of the counties he is banished from?  Will that reform the criminal? I hardly think so. Opponents of banishment say the practice is unconstitutional. Banishment can possibly strip a person of the right to travel. It can also separate that person from his or her from his or her family which perhaps are the people the banished person needs the most. Further, it creates a criminal shuffle as one county pushes its criminal to another county to possibly commit crimes in order to survive. The procedure is calculated to make the criminal leave one state  just to live in another state. I think some of the people in the other State won’t be too happy with that happening to them.

Tennessee is another one of those who approve of banishment  however as per Article 1, Section 8 of the Tennessee Constitution says that a person in the state cannot be exiled except by a jury of his or her peers.

Even if banishment is acceptable in theory, the scope of banishment is up for debate. In 1957, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Albert Trop vs. John Foster Dulles that kicking military deserters out of the country was unconstitutional. Chief Justice Earl Warren argued that national banishment would destroy a person.

It is not unusual for some judges to ignore the dictates of the U.S. Constitution or the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Quite frankly, I am in favour of denying a citizen re-entry to his or her own country if he or she was a terrorist in another country.

Gordie Bishop (a Canadian citizen) and age 32, was charged in January 2015 with aggravated assault of a peace officer, assaulting a peace officer with a weapon, break and enter and other charges stemming from the incident. Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officer Cathy Snelgrove intervened as Bishop was trying to escape. She was injured after trying to stop the getaway vehicle and was dragged downhill to the intersection of LeMarchant Road. She was still in hospital four days later.

Bishop has recently been sentenced to time served and banished from the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, after serving as many as  825 days (approximately two years and three months) in custody for dragging a police officer with his getaway car. That's in addition to a one-year probation, a three-year driving ban and an order to leave the province while serving his probation.

The banishment order is to ensure Bishop does not return to his lifestyle of crime as evidenced by his 27-page criminal record.

According to his father, Gordon Davis, Bishop will likely move to Fort McMurray, where his mother resides. Apparently some of the people in Fort tMcMurray are not too happy having this man with such a horrendous criminal record in their town but there is nothing that they can do to stop him from coming into their community.

I remember going into the Internet and I found a residential building in Manhattan that had fifteen ex-cons who had been previously convicted of sex crimes living in that building. That is scary.

Is banning former prisoners OK? There are various factors to consider before making that decision. I however do believe that that there are some criminals that should be ordered to live in another city or town so that they don’t mingle with fellow criminals they hung around with before they were sent to prison. 

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