Sunday, February 01, 2009

Homeless sex offender dies in the cold
after being turned away from shelter

Thomas Pauli didn't choose to die alone in the cold.

He apparently froze to death because of a crime he committed nearly 20 years ago, and a law that's dogged him ever since his release from prison.

Temperatures the night he died got down to zero in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

In the days prior to the discovery of his body in the snow outside an auto body salvage shop, he reportedly attempted to get a bed at two shelters.

Officials at both facilities reluctantly acknowledge they would have turned him away because state law forbids registered sex offenders to reside for even one night within 1,000 feet of a school.

Read the Grand Rapids Press report here.


At 1:21 PM, Anonymous MSLGWCEO said...

Why Sex Offender Laws Do More Harm Than Good

By Deborah Jacobs

There are few crimes more heinous than child molestation. Whether violently attacked by a stranger or preyed upon by a trusted adult in the home, school or place of worship, children who survive such assaults are often left to walk a lifelong path of sorrow and pain.

Unfortunately, our government has failed to take steps that will make a meaningful difference in preventing sex offenses. Megan's Law, civil commitment, and the newest trend in anti-sex offender legislation, banishment zones, which restrict sex offenders from living within certain geographic areas, all play to the fears of the public. But when it comes to stopping sex assaults, these measures do more harm than good.

To understand why, one must look at the realities of sex crimes in America today. The vast majority of sex offenses are committed by trusted adults-family members, friends, clergy-and go unreported because of manipulation of the victims, unconscionable decisions by other adults, or both. We saw this most vividly when lawsuits uncovered that the Catholic Church hierarchy had hidden and ignored countless cases of child sexual abuse for decades, choosing to protect its reputation over the children under its care. Unfortunately, this happens in family hierarchies even more frequently.

Because the most common type of sex crime so often goes unreported, most sex offenders never become part of the criminal justice system and therefore are not affected by Megan's Law or banishment zone laws. As a result, these laws give the public a false sense of security, letting us believe that sex offenders have been exiled from their neighborhood, or that if a sex offender does live nearby, we will receive notification of his presence. If we believe that, we are fooling ourselves and, worse, doing our children a disservice. Sex offenders live in every American community, and children need supervision no matter what.

Laws like banishment zone ordinances actually make us less safe, as they impede offender rehabilitation and thereby increase the likelihood of reoffense. People who transition from prison into society face countless challenges, and most have very limited resources, financial or otherwise. People who want to lead law-abiding lives after serving a prison sentence need to establish stability in their homes, jobs and families. Those are difficult things to achieve, but add to this the consequences of Megan's Law and limits to where offenders can live, and few have hope of succeeding. Indeed, the fear of the stigma of Megan's Law can force offenders underground, out of the watchful eye of police and parole officers.

Banishment zone laws may very likely force sexual offenders to move from environments in which they have support networks into other communities in which they have no support, putting residents in their new communities at risk. Further, people who are labeled as sex offenders lose jobs, get evicted, are threatened with death, and harassed by neighbors. Some have had their homes burned down or been beaten in acts of vigilantism. Coping with this kind of stress is almost impossible, and without exceptionally strong support systems, most are doomed to fail.

If you doubt whether we should care about the stress and suffering of someone who committed a sex crime, consider the consequences for society when the ex-offender fails. When nothing works out - job, home, family-individuals are more likely to give up and reoffend.

Rather than banishing sex offenders and asking them to succeed in a hostile environment, we should focus resources on programs and policies that will actually reduce the likelihood of sex offenses occurring in the first place. We need to develop and fund public education programs that teach about the effects of sex abuse and the importance of reporting abuse so that it can be stopped.

We need to improve our systems for handling reports of abuse, looking to models like Wynona's House in Essex County, which brings different agencies together to ease the burden on victims reporting abuse. And we need to provide mental health treatment for victims and offenders, in prison and out.

There is no simple fix to the devastating problem of sex abuse. Instead of politically popular measures that make no difference or in fact make us less safe, we need to turn our attention and resources to ways of addressing the epidemic of sex abuse that, while perhaps not as politically popular, will actually work so that more potential victims can be spared.

The issue is not whether our children should be protected from sex offenders, but how to accomplish that in an effective and meaningful way. Our children deserve nothing less.

Deborah Jacobs is the Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey.

At 7:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He was a human being. Sad that there is not some sort of clearing house for people who are willing to offer sex offenders a second chance. Surely some people have hearts big enough to offer sex offenders a second chance. I refuse to believe every house in america is 2,500 yards away from a school or park.

At 3:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Megan's Law is fine if anything it needs to be strengthened not weakened. Sexual predators and others who prey or ladies and children should honestly be behind bars for life not freezing on the streets. If society gave this sexual parasite what he deserves he would still be in a prison or a locked down mental institution for the criminally insane for a good long time yet, if not life.

He was a man and as such, I am saddened that he had to die in such an ugly manner. IF society is dead set intent on letting these monsters back into humane society we can not just abandon them to the wind. Society must take responsibility for these antisocial creatures if it is to be considered humane in its dealings. We need to affordable construct single room occupancy hotels in low rent areas where their are no men, children, old people or young ladies of quality to prey upon.

Build these hotels for sexual monsters near prisons, sewage treatment plants, landfills and other areas no quality human wants to live. Insure there is a supermarket, laundry room and stores to meet all their basic needs so these creatures really have no reason to leave this area. Give the monsters a place to call their own, a sort of Pervertville. Good people will know to stay away from this pervert mecca. Perverts and predators will have a place to come home to after mixing among the quality people during the day.

No one deserves to freeze to death under a bridge or in a dump due to exposure to the elements. I am all for harsh punishment of sexual abusers, saddists and predators but even they desrve a home IF we must let them out of prisons and hospitals. To allow even the most horrific sexual monster die in the cold, exposed to the elements due to callous indifference makes monsters of this so called quality humane society we think we embody.

I would even go so far to say that these inhumanesexual monsters need friends of quality. Those who have been called to be friends to the refuse of society will know to go visit these people whose sick minds and black hearts cry out for some basic human kindness. Sexual monsters are the worst of the worst but no one should be so abandoned by a humane society that they are given a death sentence born of saddistically callous indifference. I hate to say this but I would rather offer a sex offender a place to sleep in my spare bedroom rather than see the poor thing die of exposure in the cold, unloved, shivering, so totally alone that it hurts even my cold hard heart.

Hard Hearted as I am I could not stand by and let even an ex-sexual offender convict die on the streets of exposure. When you let fear and hate consume so much of who you are that you rejoice or are indifferent to the suffering of even the worst among us you become the new monster. YOU become worse than the objects of your hate. Protect us from the sexual monsters but, do not let your heart grow so cold against these creatures that their deaths become a meaningless passing into that long good night. To be humane is to be deminished by the passing of even the most rancid soul for Mercy must be a part of us if we dare call ourselves a humane race.


At 3:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To anonymous 3:34 am:

Boy you are a scary person! I think you are very ill informed as to history and propaganda and your willingness to forfeit you constitutional rights. Before you use words like "inhuman monster" you must enlighten yourself of the facts. It would appear you did not read with comprehension the article prior to your tasteless comments about a human being. The last part of your sorry state of mind comment only proves just how ignorant you are. Read some quotes from Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbles and compare with what this government is doing to us all. I doubt you will find it frightening until the modern day Gestapo knocks on your door to arrest your son or daughter fore having sex too early. Hope you allow time to visit them in prison and can live under constant fear when your neighbors find out the are living with you. I am sure you had sex before you were 18. Had these laws been in place during your miserable early years you would be on the "REGISTER" too. Sleep tight you perfect righteous person. Stay ignorant!! Wolf predator.

At 6:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My heart goes out to this man who died because No One Cared.This really scares me,because I know someone who's life is ruined because of a sex offense.The person lied made the story up.Now this will haunt him for the rest of his life. He can't find a job, he can't find shelter,how can a person try to survive with such a HEAVY Burden of knowing someone told a LIE on you.

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