.. .. No Room in the Shelter for Sex Offender: Thomas Pauli, 52, of Grand Rapids, MI, was “at least the eighth person found dead in the cold between Jan. 17 and Monday [Jan. 26]” in the Metro Detroit area. [Detroit News, Jan. 29, 2009] Each of the hypothermia victims deserves to be mourned, but Pauli is rightfully getting the most attention. A Grand Rapid Press headline describes his death, “Man found dead in cold was turned away from shelters in past because he was sex offender” (January 28, 2009), an columnist Tom Rademacher explains further this morning:
“He apparently froze to death because of a crime he committed nearly 20 years ago, and a niggling law that’s dogged him ever since his release from prison.
“In the days prior to the discovery of his body Monday morning at a recycling operation in the 600 block of South Division Avenue, he reportedly attempted to score a bed at either or both the Guiding Light Mission and Mel Trotter Ministries, just blocks away.
“But officials at both facilities reluctantly acknowledge they would have turned him away because registered sex offenders can’t reside for even one night within 1,000 feet of a school, in this case, Catholic Central High.”
Workers at both shelters noted that “their missions risk fines and loss of license if they admit sex offenders.” We’ve complained often about the Scarlet Letter that our society has been branding on sex offenders. Because they are treated as less-than-human bogeymen, politicians pander to unrealistic fears of sex offenders with restrictions that are unlikely to increase the safety of our children (and many experts argue will make matters worse) — and, they draft laws without including exceptions otherwise demanded by common sense and common decency. I’d like to think that Thomas Pauli’s unnecessary death will help bring a touch of humanity and logic to the discussion of sex offender residency restrictions, but I am afraid that Rademacher is right when he says:
“I’ll bet that even before readers got to my fourth paragraph, some were thinking that Thomas Pierrie Pauli, who was born on Christmas Eve 52 years ago, got what he deserved. OK, so he spent time [11 yeras] in the joint. Big whup. A sex offender should pay forever.”
Given such consistent voices of fear, will the voices of compassion and reason be loud and long enough to affect needed changes?
.. .. Test-taking “Burgler” — Love or Money? Deandre Ellis was arrested for burglary yesterday here in Schenectady, for taking a New York State Regents exam on The Living Environment. As the Gazette reports, in “Police: Regents taker an impostor” (January 29, 2009), Ellis “allegedly disguised himself as a girl to take a Regents exam for a current student.” His skill as a disguise artist are somewhat lacking; it appears he wore a wig but other details of his make-over have not been released. Although he’s only 17 years old, Ellis is a former Schenectady High Student, so I’m not sure just how successful he has been in the past with taking Regents exams. We’re not told whether he was taking this test out of romantic or entrepreneurial motives. The unidentified “female student’s status — the real student — is under review, an official said.”
We are rather surprised that Deandre Ellis is charged with one felony count of third-degree burglary. As the Gazette describes the rationale:
“Burglary is defined as knowingly entering a premises that you’re not supposed to be in with the intent to commit a crime, Police Department spokesman Sgt. Eric Clifford said.
“In Ellis’ case, he was not supposed to be at the school and he intended to commit the crime of forgery, Clifford said.”
Apparently, Sgt. Clifford told the Gazette they were using “a strict interpretation of the burglary statute.” There are no criminal law experts in the f/k/a Gang, but it sounds more like a loose interpretation of the statute to us.
update (Feb. 19, 2009): The print version of the Daily Gazette has an article today on p. B3 titled “Imposter suspect in Regents exam faces lesser charge”. It says District Attorney Robert Carney won’t be charging Ellis with burglary for entering a Schenectady school to take a Regents exam in disguise for another student. Instead, Ellis is being charged with misdemeanor criminal impersonation, which he denied at his arraignment yesterday. DA Carney explains that “There has to be some sort of notice or communication to [a] person that ‘you’re not welcome’ to convert [entering a public building like a school] to a trespass,” on which to hang a burglary count. According to Gazette reporter Steven Cook:
“But Carney likened the case to a shoplifter. Anyone is allowed in a store, until they’re asked to leave. But a shoplifter isn’t charged with burglary, Carney said, even though they may have entered with the intent to steal.”
Tonsorial-forensic experts should note a mystery raised in the case: Ellis wore a wig when posing as a female student in January. As you can see above, he has short spiky hair in his mug shot. But, three weeks later, he appeared in court with “long hair, past his shoulders.” Neither Ellis nor his public defender were willing to comment on the issue. Could it be Ellis will claim he always goes around in the long wig and therefore was not trying to impersonate the female student?
.. .. Before & After Bellies: The human belly can be a most lovely sight. Unfortunately, as we are all-too aware in modern America, it can also be a dreadful eyesore — and, one that the f/k/a Gang attempts to avoid as much as possible, whether be they dressed or undressed. [Thus, you won't find Prof. Yabut nor dagosan hanging out near the food courts of large shopping malls.] We’re getting very tired, therefore, of being bombarded with all the internet ads lately for diet supplements and exercise machines that promise flat stomachs, and that somehow feel they have to depict bulging, pastey, toneless “before bellies“.
To Jacky and all the other hucksters of such products, we say “after bellies only, please” (and, preferably, aspirational models who never really needed the products anyway).
You might not get the results promised in those Flat Stomach ads, but we try to keep our promises here at f/k/a. So, here is another installment in our new project to present haiku and poetry from the back issues of the mostly-offline Modern Haiku journal.
the paisley lampshade
by the broken cabin window,
dusted with snow
dirt in the wrinkles
of the saddlemaker’s hand
…. by Michael Dylan Welch
our shadows cross
the melting snow
…. by Gary Hotham
on the oak’s bare branch . . .
cold morning sky
… by Peggy Willis Lyles
the white moths on the screen
… by George Swede
a foster child’s
… by John Stevenson
back from vacation . . .
fiddling and fiddling with
the waiter looks out
… by Tom Clausen