Civil Liberties

What This Crime Problem Needs Is Another List

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A California couple wrongly accused of abusing their teenager was arrested and had their other children removed from their home. They've since been cleared of the charges, but no one seems to know how to take them off the state's list of child abusers. Under California law, local authorities are required to add to the list anyone even accused of abusing children, even if they've yet to be charged. The problem is that the law apparently offers no guidance on who has the authority to remove people once they've been cleared.

When the Humphrieses first tried to be removed from the index, they were told to contact the deputy who filed the original report. But he said the complaint was "substantiated" at the time he filed it, and therefore, could not remove their names…

The Humphrieses had sued in federal court, alleging that their constitutional rights were violated. They won in 2008 before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which said the system is unconstitutional because it does not give innocent people a procedure to have their names removed.

More than a year later, state officials say they are still pondering the matter. "We're still in the process of determining what is needed to comply with the 9th Circuit's decision," said Evan Westrup, a spokesman for the California Department of Justice.

"There is no effective way for the Humphries to challenge this listing, and no way for them to be removed from the listing," the appeals court said. Because L.A. County played a role in their ordeal, the appeals court said it too could be forced to pay damages.

Timothy Coates, an L.A. lawyer who represented the county in its appeal, argued that the county did not devise the state index and is not free to change it.

"We agree that once people get on the list, it is very difficult to get off it. The question is: Who is responsible for that? We don't have the ability to change the law," he said. It was that issue that the court agreed to hear Monday.

Meanwhile, California's legislators are mulling whether to become the first state in the country with an animal abuse registry.

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  1. A registry of accused people should not exist at all .

    1. Let’s all go accuse our assemblymen, see if that fixes the problem.

      1. You know that just might work.

        1. First impulse is that this is a good idea, but upon reflection I suspect what will happen is that such accusers will be added to other lists. 🙁

          1. Accuse them all! This is called “Burying them in Bullshit” Works good. Almost as good an putting sand in their vasoline.

      2. Bingo!

        Geese, gander, that sort of thing.

        If you’re gonna have an honest game, everyone has to pay the same price to sit at the table.

    2. That would kill the terrorist watch list too.

      1. How many dumped their “Spam” files into Obama’s Snitch site? It went away didn’t it?

  2. Under California law, local authorities are required to add to the list anyone even accused of abusing children, even if they’ve yet to be charged.

    Couples in child-custody disputes must love that one.

  3. There’s a special place in hell for bureaucrats.

    1. Yeah–Satan has them run the place.

  4. Perhaps we should put a list of names , addresses, and home phone numbers of DCFS employees in LA County online. Then, when they ask for us to take it down, we’ll reply that we’re terribly sorry, we didn’t put together a procedure to remove names when we made the list.

    1. Oh, I’m sure there’s a law against THAT.

  5. I knew when the sex registry started that it would lead to something like this. I know a guy who is on the sex offender list because he (stupidly) took a pee in public. He cannot get off of it, it is on his permanent record.

    The way out I suggest is to advocate for more lists, smoker lists, speeders lists, annoying people list until there are so many lists that anyone not on any list is the suspect. He must be doing something wrong not to be on any list.

    I’ll be on the rude to waitress list.

    First, the list, then the re-eduation camp, then the gulag.

    1. That’s it, buddy: you’re on the list. But I’m not telling you which one.

    2. List them all. Let God sort them out.

    3. Taking a pee in public is not stupid. Well, in public around people is, but in a reasonably private area is not.

      1. At a high school football game under the bleachers is pretty stupid. Alcohol had something to do with it.

        1. They peed under your fucking bleachers, Dude.

          1. it’s still not that bad. When you gotta go, you gotta go. I cannot believe they put people on a sex offender list for that.

            1. Peeing is not sexual. Ergo, not worthy of sex offender registry. CA is, as always, way ahead of stupid.

              1. Peeing is not sexual.

                Are you serious?

            2. I am calling BS on this one.

              Peeing in public is not an offense that requires registration if convicted.

              Indecent exposure does. It is Penal code section 311. It is violated only if the exposure is done for purposes of sexual arousal or to give offense. Urinating by itself does not qualify. Section 311 is the most likely culprit here, though other provisions might come into play.

              Don’t take such claims from registrants at face value.

              jej

              1. Depends opon which state you’re caught.

                1. “Depends what state you’re caught.”

                  True. The guy making the claim indicated it was California. My response was about California law.

                  jej

              2. Sorry, but this is a true story. The state has an irrational reaction to the confluence of penises and under-age girls. The claim was that he broke the “shake it more than 3 times and you’re playing with it” rule.

                I know the guy. It was a not very bright move to drain the radiator under the bleachers, but there was gross overreaction. He is fighting to be removed from the registry, no luck so far.

                1. I accept its true the guy claimed it.

                  “I was only peeing” is a common defense to PC311. It seems from your story that he either pled, or was found guilty. The finder of fact did not buy the defense, nor do I.

                  jej

        2. OK, it’s stupid, but what the fuck does peeing have to do with sex?

          1. Zeb, is someone standing by with a defibrillator?

    4. This animal on the otherhand needs to be locked up! Oh wait, it is.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75mINlmOO2I

      1. I swallow too

    5. http://planeteonline.wordpress…..i-sauvage/

      for yet another take.

    6. I’m reminded of something, and this is basically from memory, but I think I have it right –

      Solzhenitsyn wrote in the ‘Gulag Archipelago’ that, as so many obviously innocent Soviets were being rounded up and interrogated by torturers demanding names, he and fellow prisoners hit on an idea: Instead of maintaining silence, they would please their interrogators by denouncing their fellow citizens. All of them. ALL of them. Like, every single human they knew, every age, every gender, every class, every single one of them AND their families AND their family’s friends, and their family’s friends families…. EVERYONE.

      The logic was obvious — the state could not imprison or kill ALL of them, thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions…. and since they could not, the difference between the denounced and the un-denounced would be rendered meaningless.

      An interesting idea. The Soviet state, however, found a brilliantly creative way around the strategy – They went ahead and imprisoned or killed ALL of them, thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions….. ALL of them.

      Oops. Screwed that pooch. Guess that’s why pencils got erasers, huh?

      Here endeth the lesson. Take it as you will.

      1. I am Sparticus… oh, actually, no I’m no, he is.

  6. So did they get thier kids back at least?? If put in this situation, I might be motivated to ‘accuse’ the LEO involved of abuse. How quickly would the law change if one of thier own were to be wrongly kept on the list…

    1. I have a feeling an abuse complaint against a cop would inevitably fail to be “substantiated”.

  7. I’d say it’s unbelievable, but it’s totally believable.

    Oh, Radley Balko wrote it. Thanks for ruining my dinner. Again.

    I think I’ll just go gouge my eyes out so I can’t read any more of the cheerfulness that is “the world’s great experiment in self rule cluster fuck of statist pigs devolving to the same place every other country/empire/civilization has devolved to eventually”. Can’t. Go. On…

  8. All I can think of is :::facepalm:::

  9. Easy solution: put every CA resident on the list. Really.

  10. authorities are required to add to the list anyone even accused of abusing children

    What Michael and Brandybuck said.

    the law apparently offers no guidance on who has the authority to remove people once they’ve been cleared.

    How about authorizing the person who has the authority to fucking *clear* people?

    “There is no effective way for the Humphries to challenge this listing, and no way for them to be removed from the listing,” the appeals court said.

    I can think of *several* “effective” ways, but I suspect they would be frowned upon.

    We don’t have the ability to change the law

    Would someone *kindly* explain to me why everyone involved in “creating” this law should not be jailed or at least fired for incompetence?

    I wish this stuff were unbelievable. However, thanks for exposing it, Radley.

    California’s legislators are mulling whether to become the first state in the country with an animal abuse registry.

    1. California’s legislators are mulling whether to become the first state in the country with an animal abuse registry.

      Go for it, CA.

      Go for a *taxpayer* abuse registry while you’re at it.

      OK, taking a deep breath now.

    2. Good thing my two-year-old doesn’t know how to make an official child abuse complaint against me for making him go to preschool in the morning or leave the park when he wants to keep playing.

      1. Wait till he complains that you didn’t buy him a car and e v e r y o n e else has one.

  11. So the State of California is effectively ignoring a court ruling, and a federal appelate court is choosing to ignore that their order is being ignored by a state.

    Didn’t federal courts used to have the balls to order federal marshals to enforce their orders, even faced with uncooperative state authorities?

    1. You’d think, right? But the old mentality of “this is our turf” that cops and courts used to have, which upon reflection probably was positive (even though it was lamented in TV and the media all the time), is almost completely gone. Probably because they’re all part of the “more equal than others” class and aren’t as interested in fighting one another.

      This is underlined by the fact that LA Cops will gladly go out and assist DEA agents busting people for weed dispensaries, without even saying “hey, it’s legal in our state and this is our fucking turf!”

    2. No. Most judges are fucking cowards: state and federal.

  12. And Balko, the unnecessary provocation of animal welfare sympathizers both distracts from the issue at hand, and isn’t winning you any friends.

    1. Hey, whatever it takes so I never have to watch a goddamn SPCA commercial again.

  13. This is case where it’s good to be Chinese and have millions of others share your name. There are some euro-american names that work almost as well. I’ll bet Bill O’Reilly is on the sex offender list in several states.

  14. There really are some good reasons to maintain a “list” of animal abusers. Of course, that’s no excuse for having a list that isn’t easily corrected when a problem appears.

    1. I eat animals. Is that abuse?

      1. Not yet.

    2. No. These lists are all fucking stupid. If someone is so dangerous that they need to be monitored all the time, then they should be in prison. Otherwise, leave them alone.

  15. A registry of accused people is just so completely immoral and stupid it is beyond belief. It’s not just that such faith in law enforcement to not make mistakes and accuse the innocent is not warranted, but it’s an amazingly cavalier attitude about the damage that can be inflicted on folks that are simply accused of something. WTF?

    1. If their neighbors administer some self-help punishment on the accused in the registry, that’s just what an accused abuser deserves.

      *sarcasm*

    2. Wouldn’t one solution be to have the state accountable for fucking over someone for putting them on a list?

      I know if I made a false claim and caused documentable harm to someone I would be liable for the harm.

    3. The registry law was written by the elected majority. Too bad the elected minority didn’t scuttle it using any procedural means at their disposal. Right? Come on. Right?!

      1. That would have been mean and partisian of them, wouldn’t it?

    4. In Soviet America, innocence presumes you.

  16. “Does it turn that person into a pariah? No,”

    These registries don’t create pariahs? Is he mad? The entire point of these registries is to create pariahs. It will probably be as difficult for innocent parties to get off of as the child abuse registry.

    He added: “I do not think for animal abusers it’s unreasonable considering the risk they pose, much like the risk that people who abuse children do.”

    The moral inversion here is crazy. Pets now have the same rights and moral worth as children? I’ve been saying for years that the real purpose of the animal rights activists is to entirely eliminate pet ownership by making ownership ever more expensive and difficult.

  17. the real purpose of the animal rights activists is to entirely eliminate pet ownership by making ownership ever more expensive and difficult.

    OTOH, when pets are covered by Universal Health Care …

    1. They already have death panels for us.

  18. More than a year later, state officials say they are still pondering the matter. “We’re still in the process of determining what is needed to comply with the 9th Circuit’s decision,” said Evan Westrup, a spokesman for the California Department of Justice.

    How about if I mule kick Evan Westrup in the dick. Will that get me put on the list?

  19. Anyone ever hear of a *delete* button? What’s so difficult about this? Oh, right…it’s California.

  20. Shouldn’t the list, being unconstitutional, be eliminated until the constitutional problems are remedied?

  21. I guess I’m missing the part where it is Constitutional to punish people who are presumed innocent by putting them on the list. Why didn’t the court just invalidate that part of the law, and order the state to delete the names of everyone who hasn’t been convicted?

    For that matter, why didn’t the court just order the removal of this couple’s names? It’s probably a few keystrokes to do it. What do you need to create a whole bureaucracy for?

  22. To quote Mark Twain: “We have none but evidence for the prosecution and yet we have rendered the verdict. To my mind, this is irregular. It is un-English. It is un-American; it is French.”

    Twain was referring to the presumption of guilt in the Napoleonic Code.

  23. My son was arrested, tried, and acquitted of OUI, which means that, legally, he was not OUI. Yet, the law in his home State requires that the DMV maintain his name on a list of OUI offenders, in perpetuity, with no way to remove him, and they are free to impose sanctions on his ability to drive as they see fit.

    As to these lists, you need a name as common as mine, or more so, to ensure that your name appearing on a list is indicative of nothing.

    1. What’s OUI? Onanism under the influence?

    2. Innocence is no excuse for drivng drunk.

  24. “We’re still in the process of determining what is needed to comply with the 9th Circuit’s decision”

    Hmmmm. Tough not to crack, but let me give it a shot.

    Ehem.

    TAKE THEM OFF OF THE [BLEEP]ING LIST!!!!!!!

    Thank you. D.GOOCH

  25. The court is not afraid to threaten releasing prisoners due to prison overcrowding. Why not order that the entire list be taken down until the innocent are protected from it?

  26. And today a convicted (but released) rapist is to be charged in San Diego with raping and murdering a 17 year old girl while she was jogging. He’s also suspected in another dissapearance. That’s two deaths after his release from prison.

    I have an idea. How about instead of keeping lists of accused sex offenders, we just keep convicted ones in jail. Typical modern “justice” system in action, don’t do a damn thing about the really dangerous ones, and annoy, abuse and injure everyone else.

  27. Bureaucracy: noun/ a system designed by committee to be run by idiots.

  28. “Indecent exposure does. It is Penal code section 311. It is violated only if the exposure is done for purposes of sexual arousal or to give offense. Urinating by itself does not qualify. Section 311 is the most likely culprit here, though other provisions might come into play.”

    Heh heh. You said “penal code.” Heh heh heh!

  29. In all seriousness, though – everyone should change their names to John or Jane Doe. Then they are on the lists of dead people and will never have to pay taxes. Oh, wait, the government will have a way to get you off THAT list if you stop paying taxes…

  30. All I know is, next year is year 3 so I will be back on in a jury pool sure as shootin. I pity the prosecutor if I get chosen. Reasonable doubt has taken on new meaning for me since I have been reading Radley. If I get the IMPRESSION some parts of the evidence is being withheld or are iffy, I am gonna have reasonable doubt. If a cop swears to something, I will need at least one NON cop to verify, or no go. If I even SUSPECT there is a Catch-22 involved, jury nullification here I come.

    Sorry, I no longer trust the criminal justice system. If they don’t ask, I don’t have to tell!

    1. Its not jury nullification if the standard is “beyond reasonable doubt.” That “beyond” is different for you than Juror Y isn’t nullification, its the justice system working.

  31. Yet ANOTHER reason why I will never live in California…

  32. Yet ANOTHER reason why I will never live in California.

  33. This one hits close to home.

    I started my effort to prepare jurors for jury duty after a horrific jury experience myself, one in which a decent and honorable gentleman was falsely accused and nearly convicted of multiple counts of child molestation.

    I learned then about the registry, to which the defendant was added by a simple note from a detective, and from which he’ll never be removed though all charges were eventually dropped.

    Particularly in cases which include the word “child” or “molestation”, it is the accusation that matters. Lives are guaranteed ruin after that.

    The registry is but one of the thorns in the crown we eagerly place upon the bowed head of the accused.

  34. I have a different take on this. I wonder if Paula Poundstone’s name is on that list. Ms Poundstone, for those who don’t remember, was accused of molestation by one of her female foster children. The girl recanted the allegation rather quickly, but only after the prosecutor had arrested Poundstone, made her do the perp walk in handcuffs up the courthouse steps, and held a press conference in which the charges were outlined. After the recantation, the prosecutor looked through her life, discovered she was an alcoholic, and pressured her into pleading guilty to child endangerment (because she supposedly drove her kids to an ice cream store days before her arrest). The main pressure point was the prosecutor threatening to put her children on the stand and extensively question them. She pled guilty and was given a suspended sentence, followed by parole.

    Anyway, I wonder if her name is on that list of child molesters also. Never mind that the allegation collapsed; that’s the case in this other instance, also. The difference would be that the Humphreys are average citizens, while Poundstone is a celebrity. If Paula Poundstone got onto that list (and I suspect she’s not on it) that fact, and the silliness of the law, would be on the next episode of 48 Hours, Inside Edition, whatever. The Humphreys are just everyman, and that makes it different.

  35. The state of California has the best weather in the country and the worst government.

    I’ve lived in the state since 1997 and it has been a long slow slide until about 2 years ago when everything just fell off a cliff. The state bureaucracy and legislature is even more dysfunctional than DC.

    Los Angeles area where I live is just as bad. If Calfornia leads…. as so many have said….the country’s future looks pretty dismal in my opinion.

    Why any business would want to be in California anymore is a mystery to me.

    But the weather is nice.

  36. “”The problem is that the law apparently offers no guidance on who has the authority to remove people once they’ve been cleared.”””

    Of course. They are interested in putting people on, not taking them off. They don’t make mistakes, just ask them.

  37. It’s not just CA, this kind of thing happens elsewhere. In other jurisdictions, once such a list becomes useless due to so many inappropriate entries on it, no-one uses it.

    See http://oiiaustralia.com/inters…..-register/

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