Archives December 2018

NOT ALL SEX OFFENDERS ARE THE SAME (OpEd – Florida Today)

Marshall Frank, Community columnist Published 11:03 a.m. ET Dec. 31, 2018, Florida Today

Florida Bar Association President Michelle Suskauer recently penned a column published in FLORIDA TODAY about needs for reforming the criminal justice system. In her piece, she focused on a number of important issues about mental health, curbing recidivism, re-entry, sentencing and much more.

Missing among these targets for reform, however, is the ever-present quagmire dealing with sex offenders, a topic most politicians and justice officials prefer to ignore. Suffice to say, the very term “sex offender” presents a vile image that calls for eternal condemnation of anyone within that category. When offenders finish serving time, they are required to register for life within law enforcement, even if they were not predatory. This goes for the federal as well as state systems.

A young man aged 19 who engages in consensual sex with a 15-or-16-year-old female will wear the Scarlet Letter for life, forever banished from living in specific locales within a certain distance from schools, parks, bus stops, or anywhere where youngsters gather. This doesn’t mention the inability to get jobs or housing because the condemnation is far reaching. That 19-year-old offender will sustain a life sentence even if not all behind bars.

Have we gone crazy?

Bridges and causeways, such as the Julia Tuttle Causeway in Miami, have been rife with homeless men by the scores, seeking shelter and to survive day to day. The same goes for other cities around the country.

Meanwhile, the music, fashion and entertainment industries blatantly saturate film, print and airwaves with strongly suggestive sexuality. Implied or explicit, sex is ubiquitous in the 21st century, “normal” among all ages. According to the Resource Center for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention, 30 percent of high school students reported being sexually active. Sixteen-percent of student females reported having sex with someone they just met or was just a friend.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice (2016), the age with the greatest number of sex offenders is 14. Much like adult offenders, they are required to register leaving them stained forever. The study reports that 23 percent of all sex offenders are under age 18.

I know one 50-year-old man who was interested in porn within the privacy of his home. One day, curiosity called and he downloaded a porn site which included underage youngsters. Such sites are monitored by law enforcement. He was arrested, searched and convicted for possession of child porn. Investigation revealed no history of predatory behavior. He looked at pictures.

Law enforcement was able to pick from the lowest hanging fruit to establish a foolproof prosecution. Because of minimum-mandatory sentencing laws, the judge was compelled to give him six years in prison. He had to live in a sex offender compound when released. He is now on probation for 12 more years, plus he must register as a sex offender wherever goes, for life.

His crime was being a consumer, which was wrongful. But did he deserve a life sentence living under a black cloud his entire life, forever banished by society?  Perhaps more law enforcement manpower should be directed toward the producers of child pornography.

The term “sex offender” is a broad brush covering one extreme to the other. It’s easy to access Google on your computer, enter a zip code and type “sex offenders.” It will reveal names and addresses of registered sex offenders, but not the actual crime. It does not tell you if the offense was forcible rape, consensual sex with a teen, peeing in public or looking at child porn.

It is important that prosecutors and cops maintain good batting averages getting convictions for crimes in general. However, with sex offenders the quality of enforcement activity should be more important than quantity.

Meanwhile, criminal justice overhauls should also tackle the problem of broad brushing all offenders for life. Imagine being 80 years old, still paying for a crime committed at age 18. Something’s wrong with that.

Not all sex offenders are the same

Marshall Frank is a retired police captain from Miami-Dade County, author and frequent contributor. Visit marshallfrank.com.

PREDICTIONS FOR 2019

                                                         PREDICTIONS FOR 2019

  1.  The House of Representatives will initiate efforts to impeach Donald Trump, all of which will be unsuccessful. The most difficult obstacle will be that they cannot find a high crime or misdemeanor to charge him with.
  • Ruth Bader Ginsberg will leave the U.S. Supreme Court, leaving one more opportunity for President Trump to tilt the court more conservative.
  • Michelle Obama will eventually emerge as the front runner in the Democratic primary hustle, despite her lack of governmental experience. In reality, this will unofficially provide a third term for Barack Obama
  • There will be a compromise on the wall/fence construction completing some 40 or 50 more miles, and giving each party the ability to claim success through bi-partisanship.
  • New waves of immigrants will form caravans to the United States from Central and South America (Venezuela) after seeing the success of caravans in 2018.  
  • Soccer will start emerging as a significant professional sport in the United States.
  • I think Mike Pence will step down as Vice-President when the primary elections draw near. Multiple reasons. Look for a female to take his place.  Nikki Haley?
  • New plans will pass to improve health care and immigration reform in 2019.
  • Movies:  Top Oscars will go to:

Best movie:                       “Vice”

Best Actor:                        Christian Bale, “Vice.”

Best Actress:                     Lady Gaga, “A Star is Born”

Best Supporting actor:      Mahershala Ali, “Green Book”

Best Supporting Actress:  Amy Adams,  “Vice”

Best Director:                   Adam McKay, “Vice.”

  • Tiger Woods Will resume dominance over the Pro Golf circuit.

        (As for my batting average from last year’s “Predictions)

  1. Bombed.  I predicted an attempt to assassinate President Trump
  2. Correct.  U.S. moved embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
  3. ½ and ½. Some parts of border fence was erected, but not enough.
  4. Correct.  U.S. is getting tougher on Illegal immigration, plenty more to go
  5. Bombed.  I said the Mueller investigation will fizzle out.  Not yet.
  6. Unknown.  N. Korean Military plan will end tensions.  This may be happening now
  7. Correct.  ISIS defeated in Syria, though splinters exist elsewhere..
  8. Correct.  Economy very strong
  9. Correct.  One more Supreme Court judge will be seated (Kavanaugh)
  10. ½ and ½.  Best actor and actress Oscars went to Frances McDormand and Gary Oldman, as predicted. Other sport predictions bombed.

Stats:  5 Correct, 2 half correct, 2 bombed and 1 Unknown.

A FRANK MOVIE REVIEW: "VICE" – 8

“VICE”  –  8 OUT OF 10

In a word:  Propaganda

     This is a political film scripted and performed in such a manner as to stir hatred, bias and animosity toward the right wing, particularly during the Bush II administration which, according to the movie, was run by the strong man behind the president, the Vice-President, Dick Cheney. If you are a hard core conservative, you will hate the movie. If you are a hard core liberal, you will love it.

     Bear in mind, “propaganda” is not always false. Defined, according to Webster, it means:  “Ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one’s cause or to damage an opposing cause.”

     To be fair, some of the implied and/or direct criticism of the Bush administration is deserved, particularly the invasion of Iraq and the resulting death and destruction to the Iraqi people, not to mention 4424 Americans killed and over 30,000 more injured. That doesn’t include another 120,000 estimated dead among Iraqis.

     I usually consider myself moderately conservative in most political issues, but I was definitely unconvinced back in 2003 when the Iraq war was initiated by the U.S. using the suspicion of mass destruction weaponry as a motive, though there was no positive proof.

     I vividly recall Secretary of State Colin Powell’s very uncomfortable speech to the UN in 2003 in which his task was to convince the world that we would be justified initiating a war. Powell was a good soldier, following orders, but was clearly at odds with the left the administration on this issue.  He eventually bolted from Republican to support a liberal Democrat for president in 2008.

     Propaganda is not always false. In this film, the liberals point out some of the flaws in George W. Bush, making him appear no more than a weak puppet when the real power was vested in Cheney.

     The film crisscrosses the life of Cheney and his wife, Lynne, from the early days when he was a barroom brawler and she an angry wife threatening to leave him. He cleaned up his act, but the film depicts the negative impact of having a gay daughter that played on his future political ambitions. Because he chose to continue loving and supporting his daughter, a gay marriage advocate, the brakes were on from ever running for president.

     A good deal of the dialogue and controversial incidents were either exaggerated or biased to manipulate the viewer. The film depicts President George W. Bush as a folksy fellow from Texas, unpresidential in personality and seemingly unworthy of the office. Cheney is clearly the bad guy with all the power.

     This movie should trigger future films damning about Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Donald Trump as well. Why not? There’s definitely material to work with, regardless of what side of the aisle they’re from. And that goes for many others in days of yore.

     Christian Bale is a shoe-in for an Oscar. His portrayal of Cheney, not only his physical likeness, but all the mannerisms, sneers, half-smiles, gait, speech and more, was so close to the real Cheney it would be hard to tell them apart. Amy Adams also gives us an Oscar-worthy portrayal of Lynne Cheney and all that she accomplished in the shadow of her husband. I consider her among our greatest living actresses. Tyler Perry well played Colin Powell. Steve Carrell is a good actor, but was unconvincing as Donald Rumsfeld.

     Not much to worry about with bad language or violence. It’s all politics.

     I give it an 8 out of 10.

Vice (2018) – IMDb

A FRANK MOVIE REVIEW: “VICE” – 8

“VICE”  –  8 OUT OF 10

In a word:  Propaganda

     This is a political film scripted and performed in such a manner as to stir hatred, bias and animosity toward the right wing, particularly during the Bush II administration which, according to the movie, was run by the strong man behind the president, the Vice-President, Dick Cheney. If you are a hard core conservative, you will hate the movie. If you are a hard core liberal, you will love it.

     Bear in mind, “propaganda” is not always false. Defined, according to Webster, it means:  “Ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one’s cause or to damage an opposing cause.”

     To be fair, some of the implied and/or direct criticism of the Bush administration is deserved, particularly the invasion of Iraq and the resulting death and destruction to the Iraqi people, not to mention 4424 Americans killed and over 30,000 more injured. That doesn’t include another 120,000 estimated dead among Iraqis.

     I usually consider myself moderately conservative in most political issues, but I was definitely unconvinced back in 2003 when the Iraq war was initiated by the U.S. using the suspicion of mass destruction weaponry as a motive, though there was no positive proof.

     I vividly recall Secretary of State Colin Powell’s very uncomfortable speech to the UN in 2003 in which his task was to convince the world that we would be justified initiating a war. Powell was a good soldier, following orders, but was clearly at odds with the left the administration on this issue.  He eventually bolted from Republican to support a liberal Democrat for president in 2008.

     Propaganda is not always false. In this film, the liberals point out some of the flaws in George W. Bush, making him appear no more than a weak puppet when the real power was vested in Cheney.

     The film crisscrosses the life of Cheney and his wife, Lynne, from the early days when he was a barroom brawler and she an angry wife threatening to leave him. He cleaned up his act, but the film depicts the negative impact of having a gay daughter that played on his future political ambitions. Because he chose to continue loving and supporting his daughter, a gay marriage advocate, the brakes were on from ever running for president.

     A good deal of the dialogue and controversial incidents were either exaggerated or biased to manipulate the viewer. The film depicts President George W. Bush as a folksy fellow from Texas, unpresidential in personality and seemingly unworthy of the office. Cheney is clearly the bad guy with all the power.

     This movie should trigger future films damning about Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Donald Trump as well. Why not? There’s definitely material to work with, regardless of what side of the aisle they’re from. And that goes for many others in days of yore.

     Christian Bale is a shoe-in for an Oscar. His portrayal of Cheney, not only his physical likeness, but all the mannerisms, sneers, half-smiles, gait, speech and more, was so close to the real Cheney it would be hard to tell them apart. Amy Adams also gives us an Oscar-worthy portrayal of Lynne Cheney and all that she accomplished in the shadow of her husband. I consider her among our greatest living actresses. Tyler Perry well played Colin Powell. Steve Carrell is a good actor, but was unconvincing as Donald Rumsfeld.

     Not much to worry about with bad language or violence. It’s all politics.

     I give it an 8 out of 10.

Vice (2018) – IMDb

A FRANK MOVIE REVIEW: "MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS" – 5

Mary Queen of Scots –  5.0

In a word:  Contrived    

     I do love movies based on historical events and personalities, knowing full well that Hollywood often takes license to skew facts or stretch truths to add effect.  But as long as it’s not so obvious and it fits within the parameters of the storyline, we’re okay. This version of the story leaves one shaking a head in disbelief in a number of scenes.

     In a battle scene outside a wooded area, Queen Mary sits on a horse overlooking a couple platoons of men going to war, using pistols and long barrel rifles. The movie is set in the latter 16th century. Such weaponry was not invented yet. (groan)

     The movie depicts a face to face confrontation with England’s Queen Elizabeth. According to all the historical accounts, that never happened.

     The setting is mid and late 1500s. Queen Mary has four chambermaids. Two are black. These were not slaves locked into servitude, the characters were held in high esteem. Sorry, from what I gathered in a bit of research, Scotland was 99-plus percent white in the 1500s, the likelihood that blacks were engaged as chambermaids is close to zero.

     Another effort by the writers/director engaging in 21st century political correctness, was adding two or three black males as actors in the queen’s service in the 16th century…another highly unlikely happening in lily-white Scotland. Wait there’s more. One of those blacks turns out to be gay and openly accepted by the people.  Let’s carry it even further, in one scene that black gay man is caught in a sexual dalliance with a white guy, who happens to be the queen’s husband and father of her child. (moan, groan) Bear in mind, Scotland was strongly divided as Catholic and Protestant in those days and such activity was strongly condemned if not only on religious grounds.

     I’m all for minorities of all races and creeds acting in the movies. There are enormously talented blacks, some of whom are winning Oscars, deservingly so. But the constant drumbeat of political correctness in places where it is clearly out of context, yet probability, ruins the entire movie.

     To be fair, the sets and scenery were good. Saoirse Ronan was excellent in role as Queen Mary. Authenticity aside, the movie was fair, though it slowed to a crawl in places. I would have addressed more about the storyline, but it got lost in all the political correctness.

     I did enjoy learning the true story of Mary Queen of Scots, even if I had to look it up myself.

     I give this film 5 out of 10.

     Mary Queen of Scots (2018) – IMDb