Sunday, April 21, 2013

Cops blocked from unfounded accusations

The Santa Cruz Sentinel reports:
Law enforcement officers and child welfare advocates are concerned about a little-noticed change to California's child abuse database, saying it could hamper their ability to keep tabs on hundreds of suspected abusers who work with kids outside the home, including teachers, coaches and clergy.

The database is used to flag such people when they apply to work with kids, adopt or take on foster children. It was changed in 2011 to protect the rights of the accused and shield the state from lawsuits, but one provision prohibited police from submitting suspects' names to it.
I did not notice this change either, but the police should certainly not put the names of suspects on the database.

Men are innocent until proven guilty. If the cops find someone committing a crime, then they can make an arrest and/or pass the evidence to the DA. But to put people on a child abuser database without filing charges? Absolutely not.
The law's author, State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, stands by the change, saying it was needed to ensure innocent people weren't unfairly flagged and noting that police still have the power to arrest someone if they can substantiate allegations against them.

"They can't just place somebody's name (in the database) just because they think somebody's guilty," he said.
Unfortunately CPS can still place somebody's name in the database just because they think somebody's guilty.
The latest change, approved by the Legislature without any significant opposition, was the result of the state spending millions of dollars to defend lawsuits brought by people whose names appeared on the database though no criminal charges were brought.

Ammiano's original bill sought to block from the database cases in which an investigation of abuse allegations was inconclusive and to ensure an appeals process to remove someone's name. But then the provision was added to bar all police reports, including "substantiated" cases in which an investigator believes evidence "makes it more likely than not" that abuse occurred, but that the person may never be arrested, charged or convicted of a crime.

As of April, the database held 672,634 individuals with substantiated cases, 41 percent of which came from law enforcement reports that were submitted prior to the change, according to the state Department of Justice. No law enforcement reports were added since the change.
The state should abolish the whole database.
Frank Mecca, executive director of the County Welfare Directors Association of California, supported Ammiano's bill but is willing to look at it again.

"We want as much information in as constitutionally permissive to keep kids safe," while balancing due-process rights, Mecca said. He said he would be open to having a discussion with police and child welfare advocates to hear their suggestions to improve the current database.

"The Legislature has been moving that needle" for decades, Mecca said. "If there's an argument for another tweak of the needle, maybe there is."
This means that the supposed do-gooders will do everything they can to make unfounded accusations, up to the point where the courts say that it unconstitutional.

Ammiano wrote a letter to the San Jose paper editor:
Due process a key part of child abuse cases

Due process -- a citizen's protection against state excesses -- is one of our Constitution's great provisions.

It is also at the center of a recent AP story. The headline suggests, "Law change makes child abuse hard to track." The law does not affect proven abuse.

Police apparently want to put names on the Child Abuse Central Index without proof, without notifying people, without giving them a chance to respond -- in short, without due process. That jeopardized CACI and lead to the change in law.

The law doesn't merely "shield the state from lawsuits." Existing court decisions threatened to invalidate the whole abuse database because of police conduct. What hinders tracking is police failure to investigate cases so that charges are filed, or transfer them to child welfare agencies.

It's unconscionable -- when DNA testing increasingly reveals police errors long after trials -- that officials would tar innocent people based on mere suspicion.

Tom Ammiano
Assemblyman, 17th District San Francisco
Good for him. A reader sent me this link, and added:
As you have posted, you were placed on the CACI despite the allegations against you being unfounded. And the US Supreme Court didn't even want to touch the CACI issue.


Anonymous said...

White Feminist Woman at Georgetown University working in the admissions department openly admitted that she REJECTED white men's applications simply because they were WHITE MEN.

Brief: A female advisor in the admissions department at Georgetown University has been caught openly admitting that she committed the CRIME of discrimination based on people's race and gender in the application process.

This has the potential to create a large scale lawsuit against Georgetown University, and with the momentum building at the rate it is building, seems very likely that will be the outcome.

Below are the main links to all of the information regarding this news story and case.

Anonymous said...

And now for something completely different:

"Ryan's parents split in 2011 and obtained a joint-custody order from Santa Cruz County when his mother moved to San Jose and then to Texas in May...

"Judge Jeff Almquist awarded Zepeda full custody in February after Estrada-Cortez failed to appear in court at least once..."

Guess Santa Cruz judges don't want to be featured pejoratively on this blog anymore.