Hot Topic: Nursing Homes for Sex Offenders & Violent Offenders

Federal judge orders Texas prison system to provide cooled quarters for heat-sensitive inmates

7-20-17 Texas:

HOUSTON — In a searing 100-page rebuke of the Texas prison system, a federal judge Wednesday ordered state officials to provide air-conditioned living quarters for elderly, disabled and other heat-sensitive inmates at the Pack Unit northwest of Houston.

The judge’s ruling — which chastises prison officials for “obstruction” and “deliberate indifference” to inmate suffering — gives the state 15 days to draft a plan to ensure that 475 vulnerable inmates have living units cooled to no more than 88 degrees and that 1,000 others have easy access to indoor respite areas. The prison must also develop a heat-wave policy to prevent further injuries and install insect-proof window screens.

The ruling from U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison does not require prison officials to install air conditioning throughout the prison, but suggests staff could adjust housing assignments to make sure inmates with health problems sleep in cooled dormitories.

Ellison — who spent five hours at the Pack Unit in the summer of 2014 to feel the heat for himself — cites Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s writing on Siberian prison conditions in ordering the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to bring its prisons up to modern standards.

“The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons,” Ellison wrote. “To deny modern technology to inmates today for the simple reason that it was not available to inmates in past generations is an argument that proves too much. No one suggests that inmates should be denied up-to-date medical and psychiatric care, or that they should be denied access to radio or television, or that construction of prison facilities should not use modern building materials. The treatment of prisoners must necessarily evolve as society evolves.” ..Continued..

Prison rehabilitation ‘made pedophiles & rapists more dangerous’ – report

6-27-17:

Prisoners who took the taxpayer-funded Sex Offender Treatment Program (SOTP) – a six-month psychological group therapy course – were at least 25 percent more likely to be convicted of further sex crimes than those who did not, according to an independent study seen by the Mail on Sunday.

The newspaper says those convicted of physically attacking children were especially likely to reoffend after taking the course, which has cost more than £100 million ($127 million) since it was set up in 1991.

Before the report was compiled, about 1,000 prisoners had taken the “core” program across eight jails, and the worst offenders did an extended course. The courses involved discussions to help sex offenders understand their crimes, increase awareness of victim harm, and to stop reoffending.

The core and extended programs have now been cut by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). The ministry was reportedly initially reluctant to accept the findings, but after they were independently endorsed, were forced to act.

The newspaper accuses Liz Truss, the former justice secretary, of keeping the independent study secret. ..Continued..

The Octogenarians Who Love Amazon’s Alexa

6-9-17 National:

A community of San Diego retirees is using the personal-assistant gadget to listen to audiobooks, keep current with family news, and control home appliances.

When Lois Seed wakes up in the morning, one of the first things she says is “Alexa, what is the weather?” Seed, who is 89 and has low vision because of macular degeneration, finds it convenient to get weather information by speaking to the Alexa voice-activated assistant on her Amazon Echo. She also asks her Echo to tell her the time and to play classical music from her former hometown radio station.

“Life is more enjoyable [with Alexa],” she says, proving that the recent Saturday Night Live spoof about Alexa and seniors couldn’t be further from the truth.

Seed and about 50 other residents at the Carlsbad by the Sea retirement community near San Diego have been testing the personal-assistant technology inside their homes since late February. Front Porch, the nonprofit organization that runs the community, devised the pilot program after residents expressed interest in Alexa and asked to try it.

Some older adults have been using Alexa on their own to alleviate loneliness and set medication reminders, but Front Porch appears to be the first retirement community to study the technology’s impact in depth. And it wants its residents’ experiences to help inform how future versions of Alexa might better serve the elderly. The group could represent a sizeable new market for Amazon. More than one million Americans reside in assisted-living facilities today, and that number is expected to double by 2030. ..Continued..

The Puzzle of Housing Aging Sex Offenders

6-1-17 National:

States are grappling with how to care for a growing population of registered offenders in long-term care facilities.

When state officials finally released William Cubbage from the Iowa Mental Health Institute in 2010, they predicted he was too sick to hurt anyone again. But the octogenarian only became an even more notorious sex offender.

Between 1987 and 2000, Cubbage was convicted in four separate cases of assault. Then, a year after his release, he molested a 95-year-old woman in a nursing home. Neither the home’s patients nor their families had been notified of his history. The woman’s relatives were unable to sue, when the Iowa Supreme Court ruled the state was not legally liable. The state took Cubbage back, and in 2016 he was in the news again for allegedly trying to grope a care worker during a bath.

Aging sex offender dies after latest charges dropped

5-15-17 Iowa:

INDEPENDENCE – A man who was at the heart of the issues over caring for aging sex offenders has died.

William Russell Cubbage died Friday at the Mental Health Institute in Independence, according to Buchanan County Attorney Shawn Harden. He was 88.

Cubbage’s death came almost two weeks after a district court judge dropped criminal charges against him for allegedly grabbing a female MHI employee between the legs in January 2016.

In ruling issued May 2, Judge Brad Harris found that Cubbage was incompetent to stand trial on a charge of assault with intent to commit sexual abuse. There was also no substantial probability that Cubbage could be restored to competency within a reasonable amount of time, Harris’s ruling continued.