Dude, Where’s My Car?

By Michael Rushford

California’s realignment program assures felons and potential felons that they will not go to state prison if they do not commit felonies classified as sex offenses, violent felonies, or felonies on a specific list unfortunately labeled “serious felonies”. The latter label is unfortunate because every crime properly designated a felony is serious.

Auto Theft Chart

One of the non-serious felonies is auto theft. It’s pretty serious to the victims, especially those of limited means who can’t afford comprehensive insurance and need their cars to get to work. Auto theft is a “regressive” crime. It falls harder on people on the lower rungs of the economic ladder. But it is not on the “serious felony” list. So with a guarantee of no state prison by law, and with county jails overcrowded so only a fraction of sentences there are actually served, car thieves might get the impression that it is now open season on California’s cars.


The FBI released its preliminary data for the first half of 2012 recently. These data only include cities over 100,000 population, but nonetheless the 2012 v. 2011 comparison is interesting. Because realignment took effect on October 1, 2011, the comparative first-half data gives us a clear before-and-after comparison.


Auto theft increased by 1.7% nationally. In California, the increase was 12.8%. California’s greater increase works out to an additional 4,485 people’s cars stolen.


Michael Rushford is the President of the Sacramento, CA based Criminal Justice League Foundation


Open Letter to a Sandy Hook Parent


Dear Neil,


Let me begin by offering my condolence over the tragic loss of your six-year-old-son Jesse at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, CT on December 14, 2012. Losing a young child to senseless violence is a devastating experience that defeats many parents as it strengthens others. Unfortunately, you have joined the club that nobody wants to belong to, yet nobody can leave once they have gained entrance.


I compare losing a child to having a child. If you haven’t had the experience, you don’t understand the depth of emotion or the cosmic bonding involved, because there is nothing to compare it to. Not the loss of a parent, or the death of a puppy. We create our children, we mold them, nurture them and invest our lives in them. Nothing on this earth equates the loss of a child.

Neil Hesling & Jesse Lewis

Neil Hesling & Jesse Lewis

It’s a cold hard fact that just as our children gave meaning to their lives; it is up to us, their parents to give meaning to their death. There are numerous ways large and small to pursue this task. This morning I learned that yesterday you were heckled by so called pro-gun activists as you gave testimony at a hearing before the Gun Violence hearing at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, CT. Just as you are giving meaning to Jesse’s death they are demeaning his life.


I become apoplectic whenever victims are dismissed or demeaned over a so called higher principle. It is the anger that fueled my quest in the aftermath of the loss of my daughter Polly in 1993. Like you, I bared my soul, embraced the hole in my heart, and endured the taunts of hecklers. I too, proudly carried the picture of my slain child so that nobody would mistake my meaning or purpose. You will not allow them to deter you or defeat you because you are demonstrating the strength of your character as your adversaries are exposing the limitations of their narrow mindedness.


Crime BillStanding next to President Clinton when he signed the original assault weapons ban in 1994 was one of the proudest and saddest moments of my life. I finally realized that there was meaning in death, but that the cost of victory was unacceptable. The death of our children should never prompt change. Instead, the hopes and aspirations that we have for our children’s future should inspire safe schools and safe streets. Unfortunately, the loss of little Jesse and his friends and classmates proves yet again that we are a reactive and not a pro-active society. Let us now hope that your loss and the loss of the other parents in Newtown will finally limit the ability of out of control individuals to wreak mass murder on innocent children and those who care for them.


As the father of a child kidnapped and murdered by a crazed lunatic, I understand the need to do whatever is necessary to protect America’s children by limiting our ability to inflict violence. Neil, don’t stop, because your voice rings loud and clear while those who try to shout you down are shrill and weak. I am proud to stand next to you in your quest to end the madness that holds us all in the grip of fear.

FBI Report Shows California Crime Rose Sharply in 2012

Libra Tatt2By Mike Rushford


Statistics from the FBI, documenting national and state crimes over the first six months of 2012, indicate that after years of declining crime rates, California is experiencing significant increases in every category of reported crime, including a 7.6% increase in homicide and double-digit increases in burglary and auto theft.  While the report only counted crimes in cities with populations of 100,000 or more, the California-based Criminal Justice Legal Foundation cited the increases as evidence of a trend which many in law enforcement saw coming.


“We have been following news stories reporting on crime across the state since March 2012 to determine the impact that Realignment (AB109), which lowered the consequences for thousands of felons, is having on public safety,” said Foundation President Michael Rushford.  “Although it seemed clear our state was experiencing increases in crime throughout last year, the state officials and academics who had encouraged the sentencing alternatives kept telling us that Realignment was working and that those reporting increased crime were fearmongers,” he added.


The FBI report indicates that between January and June 2012, the national rate of violent crime rose by 1.9%, compared to the first six months of 2011.  Property crime over the same period increased by 1.5%.  Violent crime in California increased at more than twice the national rate, rising 4% while the rise in property crime was six times higher at 9%.  The report showed the highest crime increases in the West, driven by significant rises for most or all crimes in California, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, and Nevada, while Utah, Idaho, Colorado and Texas experienced either minor increases or reductions in most categories.


While comparisons between states can be simplistic, there are inferences that can be taken by narrowing the criteria.  A comparison with Florida and Texas (which, like California, have large diverse populations, dynamic economies and long national borders) shows the increase in the rate of violent crime in the Golden State was two and a half times higher than Texas and seven times higher than Florida.  While both Florida and Texas have been experimenting with alternative sentencing for juveniles and some drug offenders, both have significantly higher incarceration rates than California, and neither has implemented the sweeping sentencing reforms required under California’s Realignment, which took effect in October 2011.  New York and Washington State, on the other hand, have been engaged in large-scale alternative sentencing for several years.  Both experienced a spike in violent crime similar to California’s along with increases in nearly all categories of property crime.


“This report tends to confirm what police chiefs, sheriffs, parole officers, and even some judges have been warning us about over the past year.  Crime in California is increasing under Realignment,” said Rushford.  “With the enthusiastic support of the Legislature, Governor Jerry Brown has traded the safety of law-abiding Californians for some mostly illusory, short-term savings.  Until major changes are made to Realignment, we can expect excuses and rhetoric from the Administration and even greater increases in crime with each successive report,” he added.

The Shadow Nanny and Shaken Baby Syndrome


Accused Nanny Aisling McCarthy Brady

Accused Nanny Aisling McCarthy Brady

Aisling McCarthy Brady arrived in Massachusetts from her native Ireland as a tourist for 90-days under the Visa Waive Program in 2002. She has been in the United States illegally ever since. On Jan.22, 2013 Brady was arraigned on a charge of assault and battery on one-year old Rehma Sabir, causing substantial bodily injury. The little girl has subsequently died. Prosecutors expect to charge the thirty-four year old professional nanny with murder once the autopsy is completed.


Currently, Brady, who has pled not guilty, is being held on a $500,000 bail in the MCI-Framingham correctional institution. If she posts bail she can have no contact with the family of the child, and no contact with kids under the age of 10. She cannot engage in employment or volunteer work with kids or engage in child care services. She must surrender her passport, and check in with probation, and she is ordered to remain under house arrest with GPS monitoring. Her next court date is a pretrial hearing that is scheduled for February 22.


On January 14, Cambridge Police responded to Ash Street regarding an unresponsive infant. The child was found to be breathing but unconscious.  The child was transported to Children’s Hospital in Boston where she was found to be suffering from subdural and retinal hemorrhaging, and cerebral swelling.  She was also observed to have multiple healing bone fractures.  On January 16, the child was pronounced brain dead and subsequently died.


It has been determined that Brady had sole custody of and contact with the child during the time that she sustained injuries consistent with abusive head trauma. An evidence search of the child’s bedroom revealed blood stained baby wipes discarded in a ‘Diaper Genie’. The baby’s blanket and pillow in the crib also had telltale blood stains. The wall next to her changing table had a piece of drywall missing, with remnants scattered on the floor that was consistent with it being damaged by forceful contact with the corner of the changing table.


In documents released yesterday it was disclosed that, based on radiologic images from Children’s Hospital, Rehma had numerous healing fractures, between 2 weeks and two months old, including several compression fractures in her spinal area, as well as what are called long bone fractures to one of her left forearm bones and the two bones in her left leg. Clearly, the toddler had been subjected to severe abuse over the long term.


Brady has no criminal convictions, but she does have a well-documented history of erratic behavior and anger management issues. In 2005, a former boyfriend got a restraining order against Brady because she attacked him in a bar for talking to another woman. This incident was followed by years of stalking and harassment. In 2007, in an unrelated incident, Brady was arrested and charged with assault after yet another incident at a bar. As recently as 2011, a restraining order was filed against Brady after she accused a woman of “abusing the kids in the playground”.


Convicted Nanny Louise Woodward

Convicted Baby Killer Louise Woodward

This case is reminiscent of the Louise Woodward manslaughter incident and trial in 1997. In both cases the nanny was a foreign national. Like baby Rehma, little Matthew had old injuries that indicated previous violent abuse. Louise, a nineteen-year old English au pair was convicted of the involuntary manslaughter of eight-month-old Matthew Eappen while he was in her care. In November, 1997, Louise Woodward was sentenced to a mandatory life sentence for the second-degree murder of baby Matthew Eappen. Inexplicably, Judge Hiller Zobel reduced the jury’s verdict to involuntary manslaughter and said that the 279 days in prison the British au pair had already served would suffice as the entirety of her sentence. Woodward has since returned to Great Britain.


According to USA Today there are hundreds of thousands of foreign born women working in these jobs. They belong to a job sector that exists in the shadows, foreign born, oftentimes illegal immigrants, with few mainstream job skills and a willingness to work under the table for sub-par wages.


Families that employ shadow nannies range from the middle class to the rich and powerful. Markel Foundation President Zoë Baird and Federal Judge Kimba Wood were both forced to remove their names from consideration as United States Attorney General in the Clinton Administration when it was revealed that they had both employed undocumented nanny’s during the infamous Nannygate scandal of 1993.


My question is simple: why do very smart people make such stupid decisions when it comes to the safety and welfare of their children? I have no doubt that the majority of America’s undocumented nannies are loving, competent and responsible, but what compels parents to entrust their children to the lowest bidder? Hopefully, this case of a sadistic shadow nanny that violently shortened the life of a sweet little girl will prompt requisite soul searching to get to the heart of that question.

Déjà vu – Another Monster in our Midst


Killer, Rapist Dennis Stanworth

Killer, Rapist Dennis Stanworth

Serial rapist and child killer and registered sex offender Dennis Stanworth B-5936 had previously been sentenced to death and life without the possibility of parole, yet he was arrested yesterday for murdering his mother.


Dennis Stanworth’s violent crime spree began on August 12, 1965 when he carjacked a 20-year old nursing student’s car, drove her to a remote location not far from Oakland’s Bay Bridge, threatened her life and raped her.


It was about sixty-degrees Fahrenheit at 8:30 p.m., on November 4, 1965 when Stanworth dragged a 24-year old into a field in El Sobrante, held an ice pick to her throat, raped and robbed her.


On the evening of May 13, 1966 Stanworth similarly carjacked, raped, and threatened a 17-year old high school student in Richmond.


Less than three months later, on August 1, 1966, near Pilole he brutally raped and murdered  15-year old Susan Muriel Box and 14-year old Caree Lee Collison.


On August 3, 1966, the day the girl’s bodies were discovered, Stanworth carjacked, raped and robbed, and stole the car of an 18-year old young lady near the San Mateo Coastline. The authorities arrested him in her car a short time later, finally putting an end to his crime spree.


Dennis Stanworth pled guilty to two counts of first degree murder, one count of kidnaping to commit robbery with bodily harm, four counts of kidnaping, three counts of forcible rape, one count of sexual perversion, and one count of robbery. He was sentenced to death for each of the murder counts and life without the possibility of parole on the aggravated kidnapping count.


Stanworth became eligible for parole when the California Supreme Court ruled that the use of capital punishment was considered impermissible cruel and unusual as it degraded and dehumanized the parties involved. 


In 1979 the California Board of Prison Terms (BPT) recommended Stanworth’s parole based on the following factors: lack of prior serious criminal history or history of violent conduct; an excellent work record while in prison, six-years of participation in therapy programs, and personal savings of $3,000. Finally, after spending seventeen years in prison for a litany of crime that should have mandated his extinction Dennis Stanworth was released back into the community.

Dennis Stanworth SOR

Has Dennis Stanworth been living quietly these past decades, or might he be responsible for unsolved crimes that have plagued the Bay Area over the years? According to the California Sex Offender Registry Dennis Stanworth is guilty of oral copulation. The California Department of Justice is unable to determine if there are any subsequent felony convictions for this registrant at this time. Finally, why were our elected officials protecting this monster when they should have been protecting us?

Cocoon for KlaasKids

Cocoon for KlaasKids

Children today are online more than ever, and are at increasing risk of being illegally tracked and having their personal data and identities stolen. These are not just teens. A recent study by Commonsense Media found that 22 percent of 5 to 8-year-old children use computers once a day, and more than a third of children under the age of 8 have used a mobile device – either cell phones or tablets – to watch movies, play games and use apps.


It goes beyond underage use of Facebook and other social media sites, to some questionable marketing practices by some of the most trusted names in the country, including McDonald’s, Nickelodeon, and Walt Disney Company. For example, Playdom, a subsidiary of Disney, recently paid $3 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they violated the Child Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by illegally collecting and disclosing personal information from hundreds of thousands of children under age 13 without their parents’ consent.


The personal data being collected on our children is widely available, not only to marketers trying to sell more French fries and video games, but also to predators. While the risk to our children escalates, proposed legislation to update COPPA and laws around tracking kids has stalled in Congress.


Our Collaboration to Protect Kids


Virtual World Computing, developer of the Cocoon online privacy solution, is working with child-safety advocate Marc Klaas and the KlaasKids Foundation to harness the power of technology to protect children from predators and abusive marketers.


Cocoon for KlaasKids will provide parents with a free browser plug-in designed to protect children from corporate tracking and family computers from malware. Parents can lock it into “Kid Mode,” ensuring kids only browse a parent-sourced whitelist of recommended, appropriate and safe websites. Accessing sites beyond Cocoon for KlaasKids requires parental permission.


KlaasKids 3.0 – Happy Birthday Polly

Today we should be celebrating Polly’s 32nd birthday. Instead we are honoring her memory by introducing powerful new technology and philanthropic programs to the world that were inspired by her brief life.


2013 also represents the 20th year of our advocacy on behalf of America’s children. We can think of no better way to acknowledge that milestone than by providing 21st century solutions that put the power of prevention and pro-action in the hands of families, neighborhoods and communities.


We have forcefully engaged the public policy arena for the past 20 years because we believe that public safety is Governments fundamental duty.  Every citizen has the right to walk on safe streets, to send their children to safe schools and to live without the fear of violence or victimization.


In the early 1990’s, when America was experiencing an epidemic of crime, we supported truth in sentencing, the assault weapons ban, and criminal accountability. We championed Megan’s Law so that communities would be aware of registered sex offenders in their midst. In the new millennium we spoke out loud and often for Jessica’s Law, and defended every effort to undermine California’s 3-Strikes & You’re Out Law. KlaasKids was one of the first organizations to acknowledge that the United States supplies much of our own human trafficking demand, and have worked diligently to educate the public and rescue underage victims of human trafficking. These past few years we have labored to update Megan’s Law into the 21st Century by including internet identifiers as a component of the registration process.


But now, all of that work is coming undone, because of apathy and government incompetence. And those who will suffer the consequences are the very people government is entrusted to protect.


In recent years California’s Department of Public Health has ignored Jessica’s Law and paper screened tens of thousands of potential sexually violent predators like John Gardner back onto our streets.


In October 2011 Governor Brown’s prison realignment program reassigned the responsibility for housing and monitoring tens of thousands of so-called non serious, non-violent, non-sexual prison inmates from the state to the Counties. This is a responsibility that the counties were ill equipped to accept or handle, and as a result serious, violent and sexual crime rates have soared.


California voters overwhelmingly passed the 3-Strikes & You’re Out Law in 1994, and by 2012, you were half as likely to be a victim of violent crime as you would have been in 1993. Yet, a cleverly worded proposition has modified that law to the point that it is no longer worth the paper it was written on and we will soon be releasing third strikers back onto our streets. How do you think that is going to work out for all of us?


In 2011 we worked the halls of the California State Legislature to include Internet identifiers as a component of sex offender registration, only to run into a brick wall at every turn. In response we fought for Proposition 35, the CASE Act, on the November 2012 ballot and the people voted overwhelmingly to enact the policies that our politicians refused to ratify. More than 81% of voters agreed that internet identifiers should be included as a component of the sex offender registry. Yet only a few weeks ago the ACLU challenged the constitutionality of Prop 35 in the Superior Court of the State of California with false claims and phony arguments.


All of this tells me that we need to take responsibility for our own safety. I’m not suggesting that we arm ourselves to the teeth with handguns, rifles, assault weapons, or rocket propelled grenade launchers as some horrible old men in legislatures throughout the United States have been hinting at in response to Connecticut’s Sandy Hook massacre. Instead, we need to arm ourselves with knowledge, technology, and philanthropy. There are numerous child-safe technology solutions in the marketplace. Some work, and some don’t. However, all of them existed in a vacuum until today.


For more than a year now, the KlaasKids Foundation has been working with vendors, inventors and visionaries to produce a comprehensive suite of technology and funding tools to address the challenges faced by America’s small children and their families. Today, I’d like to introduce you to the fruits of our labor.


Cocoon for KlaasKids uses Cloud Technology to protect children from predators and abusive marketers. Polly’s Guardian Angel is a parent initiated missing child alert smart phone application. It provides the direct support of the KlaasKids Polly Center response team. The LEO Wristwatch is GPS, cell phone technology that cannot be as easily discarded as Sierra LaMar’s GPS enabled cell phone if your child has been stolen. And finally, the Klaas Family Housing Fund provides a new and innovative way to assist the families of missing children with housing expenses.