Monthly Archives: December 2016

GPS monitors

I wish I could say I’m shocked—shocked! Unfortunately, I’m not. Hell, I’m not even especially surprised.
What ignited this rant was an article in the newspaper. I was on page A6 of the Friday, December 16, 2016 edition of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, under the headline “Sex offender guilty in murder of 4 women.” Now, I am not shocked to see that a man has murdered four women…well, actually, yes I am. But it’s not surprising to see he was a registered sex offender and a convicted kidnapper. Not all, perhaps, but it seems like a lot of sex offenders and kidnappers have a problem relating favorably to members of the opposite sex. What almost shocked me in this case, and lit the fuse to this rant, was the fact that the man just found guilty of multiple murders was not only running around loose at the time; he was wearing his fourth—fourth—GPS monitor.

Apparently Steven Dean Gordon, 47 years old, and 30-year-old Franc Cano acted together, but they are being tried separately for four 2013 killings in Santa Ana, California. Gordon has just been found guilty. Cano’s trial has not yet begun, but he has pleaded not guilty.

Now, while the crime of murder is terrible, it does happen—a case of men, and/or women, behaving badly. What got me worked up begins with the fact that Gordon and Cano were registered sex offenders even before they got together after meeting in prison. In 1992, at the age 23, Gordon was arrested and convicted for lewd and lascivious acts with a child below the age of 14 years. Unknown how much time he served, but he was eventually freed, presumably with his first (1st) GPS monitoring device, because in 2002 he was arrested and convicted of kidnapping. Cano was convicted for his initial crime, whatever it was, in 2008. After serving less than eight years for his kidnapping, Gordon was released with a GPS monitor, his second (2nd). At about that time, in or before 2010, Cano was also released with GPS monitoring. It was in 2010 that Cano cut off his device and took off to Alabama where he got together with Gordon, who presumably had already done the same thing, because they were both arrested there for removing their devices. Back in California in 2012, both apparently free again and with GPS monitoring (Gordon’s 3rd), they were both arrested for doing the same thing again, removing their devices. So, what punishment do you suppose they got? Maybe pick up trash along the freeway on weekends? Even if they spent a weekend, a month or a year in the county jail, they had already demonstrated more than once that they don’t consider the device as a deterrent to fun and games. Well, would you believe they were again released into the world with GPS monitoring devices (Gordon’s 4th)? It was after this release—while wearing their devices—that they kidnapped, raped and murdered four women. That’s how they got caught. Wow! Isn’t science great?

So, how long do you have to serve for the crime of removing your device? Is it a crime? How many chances should a person have to demonstrate that he is willing to play by the rules society has set before we say, “Okay, you blew it, no more releases.”? Why isn’t this offense covered by three-strikes? If it is, who failed to notice? Doesn’t anyone take those things seriously? Are they actually monitored? How closely? Is that all the monitoring system is good for, to keep a record of where and when the person has been in order to get a conviction after they do something else, like kill four women?

Is this the best we can come up with to keep tabs on depraved low-lifes like these two? Why do we use devices they can cut off whenever they get tired of being watched and want to start playing their sick games again? Why don’t we use something nailed or otherwise permanently affixed to their foreheads for all to see? Okay, forget the nails, but surely modern science can come up with something, maybe something like a permanently running camera with a microphone so we can actually monitor their actions from every angle at every moment, waking or sleeping. How about if we attach the new and improved monitoring system to them so it can’t be removed without also removing one or more significant limbs? Maybe we could even include something to inflict a paralyzing shock to them if they are seen to be about to do something naughty, something to hold them until we can swoop in to haul their ass back to the pokey. You know, since we don’t want to actually lock them away forever?

And, why don’t we? Oh, yeah, because they’re sick. At least some folks might say these men are sick. But some illnesses are nothing more than evil, incurable and untreatable. And, if they are sick, what about people with things like Ebola and other highly infectious and potentially deadly diseases? They’re sick, too, and they haven’t even kicked a puppy, probably very nice people, but they aren’t allowed to wander about the country with nothing more than a removable device to tell us where to find the bodies they leave in their wake—unless they cut it off. Why are sickos like Gordon and Cano, who still have the option to decide whether or not to allow their afflictions to affect other people, given such freedom? I’m a big believer in the rights our Constitution guarantees, but I don’t believe Adams, Jefferson, Madison or any of the other founders would agree that this situation is one of them.
No, I don’t believe the system is broken. But, in some cases, it is badly out of whack.

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Surge in gun sales

Well, we did it. We actually passed a law limiting, to a degree, how much access the people of California may have, or be required to tolerate, to a certain type of firearm: automatic rifles with features generally accepted to describe assault weapons. It’s only a ban on new sales, though. Any such guns already owned may still be kept as long as they are registered (yeah, that’ll happen). Of course, as typically happens, the bill that Governor Brown signed back in July doesn’t take effect until January. Now there are headlines spreading the shocking news that, with lines of eager buyers backed up out the doors of gun shops and around the block, the new law is responsible for the six-month-long surge in the sale of these very toys…er, rifles. I think the proper response to this revelation is something akin to, Duh!

What the hell did they expect? It happens every time there’s a push for any kind of gun control, so it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone. Of course anyone that wants to have one of these lethal toys is going to take advantage of the six-months warning that they had better get on with it. If they wait ‘til January, they’ll have to drive all the way to another state to buy it.

As I understand it, the reason for this law is to reduce the ready availability of a very real, clear and present source of death and misery in California. Seems to me that would qualify it for emergency status. You know, pass it to be effective immediately, like the following day, a week at the most. While waiting for these six months to drag by, we have seen more than an additional 250,000 of these lethal toys hit the streets of California, or at least potentially on the streets since most will probably go into closets, hopefully with good locks. And, yes, these steel, wood and/or fiberglass creations are toys. You don’t think so? Look up the definition of toy.

Just because a good, honest citizen is the buyer, you know, doesn’t mean a weapon, whether firearm, knife, hatchet or whatever, will not be used in a crime. Honest people commit crimes. Does that really shock you? Then, think about it. It is only after they commit the crime that they are no longer honest and honorable. Criminals start off as honest people. They are not born as criminals. They are not a separate species. They don’t have tattoos or green hair or three ears to set them off from the rest of society. There is no way to identify who is or who may become a criminal just by looking at them. They are people that take a wrong turn somewhere along the road. Sometimes they use the weapon they bought while still honest and non-violent to become a criminal because it is there so nice and handy when they get the urge to blow someone away—an urge that may dissipate before being acted upon given time. Sometimes the weapon is simply stolen from an honest person by someone who is already a criminal. Criminals also steal. Of course, if the honest person didn’t have it, the criminal couldn’t steal it, and he’d have to find another honest person that did have one that he could steal, if he could find such a person.

But, the thing is, the argument that this law will only affect honest people, not criminals, is bogus. It’s like this: If there were no guns, no one would get shot, period. But, since that is not going to happen—there will always be guns because there already are—any reduction in the increase and spread of guns, especially certain ultra-efficient types, available to criminals or those who may become criminals would still have a direct effect in the number of criminal uses. If there were 250,000 fewer assault weapons in a given area, say only 1,000,000 instead of 1,250,000 it would mean 250,000 fewer assault weapons available for criminals to use in that area. Of course, that’s not counting shotguns, assault weapons and muskets brought into the area from other areas, which is another issue, but with the same potential solution of reducing that area, also, by 250,000, or any number. It wouldn’t solve the whole problem, but it would be a start. A journey not begun, you know, is one never completed.

You may have noticed I haven’t mentioned the Second Amendment. I haven’t because it is not part of this issue, which is about the effects and the wisdom of delaying the implementation of a new law. It could equally apply to a law about…oh, say requiring red shoes worn on the right foot to have green laces, not blue ones. If there were a recognized serious health or safety reason for the restriction, why would we agree to give as many as 250,000 red shoe owners six months to stock up on blue laces? Oh, yeah, financial hardship for the stores selling shoelaces, as well as the factory producing them at an increased rate, all of which would be stuck with the huge inventories of blue laces they all stockpiled when their market forecasters saw the goldmine the writing on the wall predicted with the new law that was probably coming.

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Re-release of Refuge

It’s done! Edition three of REFUGE is completed and available on Amazon Kindle as well as in paperback.  It even has a bold new cover that reflects one of the revisions, the shape of the invader’s star-ships.  But that’s only a minor point.  I’ve fleshed out some earlier scenes that tended to be on the lean side, and adjusted the level of graphic malevolence, including less flesh, that brought me some (well-deserved) criticism.  All of this resulted in the arc of the story being altered to accommodate how the revised climax goes down.  It took me a bit of time, lots of effort, and much enjoyment.  But, what the hey, writing is fun!  And because it was so much fun, plus the fact that the original was not my best writing, and because the revision’s effects will carry through to RAVEN and further sequels, I also did a revision of RAVEN, although not so extensively.

kindle-cover REFUGERefuge cover

 

 

 

So, if you have read REFUGE and were turned off, give Edition Three a look.  If you haven’t read it, and if you like the genre and the type of story, please–jump right in.  There’s a whole series waiting for you.  RAVEN’s revision, Edition Four, is also now available on Kindle and paperback.  The next sequel, titled WOLFEHAVEN is in the last phases (I hope) and should be out soon.