Sunday, June 15, 2014

Life still hard after exoneration, freedom for Louisiana man

6-15-2014 Louisiana:

LEESVILLE, Louisiana — Rickie Johnson had spent almost half his life in prison when he was exonerated in 2008. Now 58, he struggles to make ends meet.

He has no health insurance; is ineligible for Medicare and Medicaid; and — with a quarter-century of work years lost — has no Social Security or retirement savings.

Johnson runs a leather shop in Leesville. He picked up the trade during his years in Angola State Penitentiary, where he spent most his time after being wrongfully convicted of aggravated rape in Many in 1983.

In middle age, he can finally spend time with the children he left behind as toddlers, and with their children. But retirement is a pipe dream.

Louisiana law allows wrongfully convicted people to petition the state for compensation — $25,000 per year for each year of incarceration. But the law caps the overall amount at $250,000. The money he received from the state is quickly running out.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Registered sex offender threatens to kill self after being ordered to move

5-26-2014 Florida:

A registered sex offender who took pictures of a 9-year-old girl at a Publix supermarket is undergoing a psychiatric evaluation after threatening to kill himself, police said.

Pembroke Pines police said Joseph Fezza, 64, threatened to kill himself Thursday after being told he has 30 days to move for violating a city ordinance forbidding registered sex offenders or predators from living within 2,500 feet of a school, day care, playground or park.

According to the police report, Fezza said he was going to kill himself "because it would be better off that way." Fezza said he "does take medications and has had suicidal thoughts in the past."

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Missouri sex offender presses for chance to be off registry

5-15-2014 Missouri:

JEFFERSON CITY — Miniature hockey skates slide across the ice, scarring the surface.

A boy jerks his hips back and forth, his eyes trained on his dad who is skating backward smoothly. Six-year-old Julian does his best to imitate the movements.

But he falls on his butt. His oversized helmet nods like a bobblehead.

His dad, Sean Ryno, waits near the edge of the rink, watching Julian clamber back to his feet.

Later, giggling and worn out, Julian lets Ryno help peel off the gear. The boy's row of blond cowlicks, a feature he shares with his dad, springs free as he yanks off the helmet. His little face is bright red. The pads are encrusted with ice. The red hockey stick rivals his height.

Once the pads are off, Ryno, 29, scoops up his son and swings him around. Julian's rolling giggles resonate from his gut.

"Go to Gramps for a bit, OK?" Ryno says.

The boy scampers off.

Ryno waits a beat. Then —

"Can you imagine losing that?" His voice drops, breaks.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Josh Gravens, Subject of Observer Feature, Removed from Sex Offender Registry

Listen to him tell his story CLICK HERE

12-7-2012 Texas:

The Texas Observer’s June cover story, “Life On the List,” looked at what happens when children are placed on Texas’ public sex offender registry. It centered on Josh Gravens, who at age 12 had sexual contact with his sister, was handed over to the Texas Youth Commission for more than three years, and has been listed in the public registry ever since.

Before agreeing to be interviewed for by the Observer, Gravens had never discussed his ordeal with anyone who didn’t strictly need to know. Gravens had never been an activist. He had struggled privately, moved from place to place, job to job.

Each time he started to build a life, he’d be fired, threatened, or evicted after a couple of years when something called attention to his presence on the registry. As of November 15, though, the 25-year-old married father of four is, for the first time since he was 13, not on the list.