December 15, 2013
On the same day last month that state Attorney General Kamala D. Harris was announcing an initiative designed to stop criminals from re-offending, prosecutors were in Antelope Valley Superior Court for a pretrial hearing in a case filed against Yale Joseph Yurman, 70, a Valencia resident and three-time convicted sex offender.
In the latest case against Yurman due to go to court next year, he’s charged with annoying a girl by following her and videotaping her inside a Valencia retail store.
Although the dates and locations of his prior offenses are not listed, the Meagan’s Law website says he was convicted of three prior lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14 years of age, using “force or fear” on two of those occasions.
Santa Clarita Valley sheriff’s detectives searched Yurman’s home on Hickory Court in the Belcaro area shortly after his arrest. Inside they found what they said is evidence he followed young girls and videotaped them on several occasions at two different stores and a church in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Yurman’s case illustrates the challenge of reducing repeated criminal offenses among convicted sexual predators in particular.
California’s recidivism rate — the rate at which criminals re-offend — is among the highest in the country, Harris said during her November news conference in downtown Los Angeles.
Last year, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation reported a recidivism rate of 64 percent in California, according to a report examining recidivism during the years 2009 to 2011.
The highest rate of re-offending reported in the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation report published last year was for “other sex offenses.” The definition for that category of crime includes failing to register as a sex offender, unlawful sex with a minor and indecent exposure. The rate of re-offense was 73.9 percent likelihood of parolees re-offending.
The generalized category of “other sex offenses” illustrates one of the problems with California’s handling of sex offenders, one expert says.
Dr. Rachyll Dempsey is a forensic neuropsychologist certified by the California Sex Offender Management Board, who works with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
California’s tendency to generalize sex offenders into a single category fails to appreciate the nuances and differences found in people compelled to register as sex offenders, she said in an interview with The Signal.
“We have an inmate in San Quentin who was arrested for urinating on a sidewalk and convicted for indecent exposure, making him a registered sex offender,” she said.
“In California, there is no different degree of registered sex offenders as there is in other states,” she said.
“We’ve got a whole spectrum of offenders,” Dempsey said. “We’ve got the one-time offender who is 18 with his immature girlfriend, and then we have the habitual repeat sex offenders.
“It’s a one-size-fits-all-models approach, with no distinction made between the hardcore offenders and those with some minor offense,” she said.
Dempsey, who spent six years working with offenders at San Quentin, takes many factors into account when she assesses sex offenders on probation or on parole for the California Sex Offender Management Board.
“One of the questions we ask is, ‘Why act out in a sexual way?’ And often we find it involves power and control issues,” she said. “They have feelings of insecurity and a sense of powerlessness.” ..Source.. by Jim Holt