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Fat Cats & Bureaucrats

Let’s set the record straight.

 

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Brad Dennis & Cheyenne

On February 4, 2014 an FBI press release publicized the recovery of 16 children during a Super Bowl sex trafficking sting. Many of the children traveled to New Jersey from other states specifically to be prostituted at the Super Bowl. The children ranged in age from 13 to 17-years old, including high school students and children who had been reported missing by their families.  Additionally, more than 45-pimps and their associates were arrested during the Blitz the Traffickers sting operation. Arrests were made and victims recovered in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

 

A coalition of grass roots nonprofit organizations (NPO) partnered with law enforcement on Blitz the Traffickers, but the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) was the only NPO mentioned in the FBI release. According to GuideStar, in 2012, NCMEC received a $31,715,505 grant from the United States Department of Justice to pursue their mission of helping to prevent child abduction and sexual exploitation; help find missing children; and assist victims of child abduction and sexual exploitation, their families, and the professionals who serve them. The NCMEC (2012) IRS Form 990 allocates $11,407,540 to, “Provide technical assistance and provide case analysis to assist law enforcement in their efforts to locate and recover missing children and victims of domestic child sex trafficking and to locate and apprehend noncompliant sex offenders”.

 

The NCMEC did not put boots on the ground at Super Bowl XLVIII. Instead, they distributed names and photographs of children they believe might be trafficked to the authorities; and they equipped law enforcement with “hope bags” containing items like flip flops and toothpaste for children rescued from prostitution. This is not a lot of bang for your buck.

Stop Sex Exploitation

Under the leadership of Search and Rescue Director Brad Dennis, KlaasKids, which receives no government funding, has been working with the New Jersey State Police since May 2013 and has participated in several of their sting operations leading up to the big game.  We were embedded with the law enforcement Super Bowl operation from January 28-February 1.  During this time, KlaasKids worked in direct contact with Federal and State intelligence analysts providing information to the operational elements of the law enforcement operation. Our role was two-fold: Providing specific leads regarding online advertisements which had a number of indicators suggesting the commercial sexual exploitation of children. Our most beneficial role was to provide additional analysis to any lead the FBI/NCMEC or other agencies provided to the intelligence unit. Our ability to conduct deep-web searches and scrub the initial ad looking for corroborative information enabled us to provide enhanced intelligence to the undercover operation, as well as, to the interviewers.

In Our BackyardThe KlaasKids Foundation was but one component in a nonprofit coalition that participated in the Blitz the Traffickers operation. For more than a year  Nita Belles worked with the New Jersey Attorney General’s office and local trafficking task forces to overcome operational obstacles and ensure the success of Blitz the Traffickers. The Pensacola based Called2Rescue team provided monitoring services of online escort ads and forwarded over 200-leads to the KlaasKids team in New Jersey. KlaasKids then scrubbed those leads for additional corroboration and submitted 23-specific leads to law enforcement. Several of these leads were in neighboring areas/states and were forwarded to those respective units by the FBI analysts. Free International and StudentReach developed a school assembly program featuring a state-of-the-art 3D multi-media production to prevent child exploitation and features posters of several of the missing children to 30-schools and 6-colleges in New Jersey. Global Child Rescue and Stop Sex Exploitation mobilized local faith based partners to disseminate the awareness posters and missing child books throughout New York and New Jersey.

Free International School Assembly

Free International School Assembly

5000-booklets containing images of 43-regional missing children along with 75,000-football cards featuring 3-missing children were distributed in New Jersey and Times Square, NY.  40,000-human trafficking awareness posters, designed by the Attorney General’s office featuring the New Jersey Human Trafficking Hotline were disseminated. Specific highlights of the Blitz the Traffickers operation included: 16-minors rescued.  27-pimps and/or associates were arrested in New Jersey and 17 in New York.

Global Child Rescue

Unlike the Arlington, VA based NCMEC and Washington, DC headquartered Polaris Project, the Blitz the Traffickers nonprofit coalition did not receive government funding. However, while NCMEC sent pictures and bags full of shampoo and water bottles, and the Polaris Project whined, the Super Bowl nonprofit coalition got busy. They directly assisted in rescuing children, apprehending pimps, and raising awareness about an issue that touches our soul deeply.

Called to Rescue

It seems to me that if American citizens are going to financially support missing child and anti-trafficking nonprofit organizations, they should expect a response that influences policy change through action, dedication and determination. Instead, our national treasure is being squandered on fat cats and bureaucrats.  As a nation we deserve better than that.

New FBI Report Shows Disturbing Increase in California Crime

Libra Tatt2

By Mike Rushford

A report released last week by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, documenting crime statistics in larger U. S. cities over 2012, provides more evidence that crime in California is increasing under Governor Jerry Brown’s Realignment law (AB109) according to the California-based Criminal Justice Legal Foundation (CJLF).  The Foundation, which has been monitoring crime across the state since Realignment took effect in October 2011, cites data showing that while nationally both property crime and violent crime either increased slightly or decreased, in California all categories of crime increased, some at several times the national rate.

 

While these statistics only document the first full year under the new law, which reduced the sentences and shifted responsibility for tens of thousands of habitual felons from the state to California counties, they indicate sharp increases in most crimes after decades of steady reductions.

 

“Between 1993 and 2011, violent crime dropped every year but 2006, when it increased by 1.2%.  Last year violent crime in California went up 2.9%, more than twice the rate of the rest of the country.” According to CJLF analysis, “Murders in California increased by 10.5%, while the nation as a whole saw a 1.5% rise.”

 

The Foundation also cites FBI statistics showing that, while rapes were down nationally, they increased by 6.4% in California.  Property crimes also dropped nationally in 2012, but increased in California by 9.7%.  The disparity in auto theft was even more dramatic.  California saw a 15% increase, while the national rate increased by 1.3%.

 

Supporters of Realignment initially promised that crime would not increase under the new law, and later characterized local reports of rising crime in many parts of the state as “alarmist” and “fear mongering.”  The Foundation suggests that this second FBI report, showing increased crime in California, bears out the concerns expressed by numerous police chiefs, sheriffs, and prosecutors that Realignment would jeopardize public safety.

 

For decades the state legislature ignored its responsibility to upgrade our aging prisons and address overcrowding.  This continued until two years ago when the courts finally ordered California to deal with the problem. The solution the Governor and the Legislature came up with was to dump tens of thousands of habitual criminals into the state’s cash-strapped counties and leave them there until they commit rape or murder.  Is anybody really surprised that this would result in increased crime?

 

Sierra LaMar: Anatomy of a Search Day 365!

DSC_0092I never expected that we would hit this milestone: Sierra LaMar has been missing for a year! That means that her family has endured four seasons of not knowing where their beautiful daughter/sister is. Their Saturday morning ritual has become routine. Get up very early, put on your best face, grab a mug of coffee, drive to Morgan Hill and hope that when you turn into the Sierra Search Center yours isn’t the only car in the parking lot. To date those specific fears have not been realized, but that doesn’t mean that there’s not plenty left to be fearful of. Marlene LaMar recently told me that, “It has been a long journey, and the most difficult thing is not having the answers which makes waiting feel infinite. The loss and pain has been indescribable.”

 

Last year hundreds of strangers came together to look for a teenaged girl who disappeared while walking to the school bus early on a foggy, wet and windy Friday morning. Last Saturday, a community of about fifty friends gathered for Morning Prayer as they have been doing virtually every week for a year. They stood in a circle, heads bowed and hands held as the Lord’s name was invoked and his guidance was sought. It was a touching sight, profound in its determination and its loyalty.

Press conference 6.13.12

Two-hundred-ninety-eight days ago Antolin Garcia-Torres was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping and murdering Sierra. His DNA was discovered on items that Sierra had with her when she disappeared, and her DNA was found inside his car, but he told the authorities that he had never met the young girl. One-hundred-twenty-one days ago Torres-Garcia was further charged with three separate charges of kidnapping women during the commission of a carjacking. He has yet to enter a plea on any of the charges.

Midsi and Marlene LaMar

Midsi and Marlene LaMar

Torres-Garcia holds the truth that so many desperately want to know, and he turns his back on common decency. Since he invoked his right to be represented by a lawyer, the authorities don’t question him. Because he is so despised by the other inmates at the Santa Clara County Jail, he is held in protective custody. There is nothing like staring your own mortality in the face, so I believe that the prospect of the death penalty might finally bring the truth forward. Nothing else has worked.

The Kitchen Ladies: MA, Loretta, Margaret, Vivian, Mary

The Kitchen Ladies: MA, Loretta, Margaret, Vivian, Mary

Tomorrow morning the public and media will join Sierra’s family and the search volunteers at the Search Center which is located at 85 Tilton Ave., Morgan Hill. There will be a press conference at 9:00 a.m., followed by a balloon release. Then searchers will be dispatched to look for signs of Sierra. I expect the mood to be as hopeful as the day is beautiful. The trouble is that with this case storm clouds are never far off the horizon.

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

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.

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.