Convicted Felons with Big Dogs

Here's a security threat I'll bet you never even considered before: convicted felons with large dogs:

The Contra Costa County board of supervisors [in California] unanimously supported on Tuesday prohibiting convicted felons from owning any dog that is aggressive or weighs more than 20 pounds, making it all but certain the proposal will become law when it formally comes before the board for approval Nov. 15.

These are not felons in jail. These are felons who have been released from jail after serving their time. They're allowed to re-enter society, but letting them own a large dog would be just too much of a risk to the community?

Posted on October 28, 2005 at 12:17 PM • 108 Comments

Comments

SavikOctober 28, 2005 12:44 PM

Sounds like the Contra Costa County board of supervisors doesn't have enough to do. So they make stupid decrees such as this one.

Maybe we shouldn't allow them to own cars either because you could easily kill somone with one. Perhaps they shouldn't be allowed own knives, rope, steal bars, pipe, bailing wire, cleaning solutions....ban them from using gyms, matches or lighters....

Woof.October 28, 2005 12:53 PM

Perhaps the rationale is that recidivists would be more likely than the average citizen to use their dogs against the police when they showed up to make an arrest. Shooting aggressive animals would run the risk of a lawsuit and lots of whining by the ASPCA and PETA.

Most convicted felons aren't allowed to vote, either.


Michael AshOctober 28, 2005 1:21 PM

This is just an example of a larger trend in society, namely the idea that a person who is once a criminal is always a criminal.

Already, a convicted felon cannot vote, own a firearm, get serious consideration for most jobs, or do many other things in many places in the US. Certain classes of criminals, notably sex offenders, end up even worse, with forced registration and other such things.

And yet, these restrictions increase, rather than decrease, the chance that an ex-con will commit a crime. By decreasing his options and restricting his legitimate life, we simply make the criminal life relatively more attractive for him.

As usual, an agenda ("tough on crime") precludes proper analysis and makes us all less safe.

AnonymousOctober 28, 2005 1:24 PM

Try this link:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/...

"Supervisor Mark DeSaulnier said his desire to do something about dangerous dogs was galvanized by the March 29 mauling of 11-year-old JaQuan Rice Jr., as the boy walked near his home in Concord."

But if I read the story right, the owner of the dog was only convicted of a misdemeanor. So this law wouldn't even have affected this event.

JilaraOctober 28, 2005 1:27 PM

Actually, in an area (San Francisco greater Bay Area) where there are horrific dog maulings several times a year, usually from dogs owned by people who---let's just say they have socialization issues---I can see where they're coming from. Of course, the fact that this is also an area where things happen like puppies being doused with gasolene and set on fire by some of these same sorts of humans with socialization issues, should be taken into account, too. (I'm not talking about necessarily convicted felons, but some felons do figure into a subset of this group.) There have been a lot of attempts to ban pit bulls, regardless of who owns them, but those generally fail. I heard an SPCA guy on the radio who said that the actual rational for the pit bull ban made perfect sense to him, as those were the overwhelming proportion of the animals that ended up at the animal shelter, either as vicious dogs, neglect cases, or abused animals. It's a larger issue that has to do with animals owned by people who are at-risk owners, and doesn't have a neat or easy answer.

WoodyOctober 28, 2005 1:42 PM

Wow.

Being a ex-convict is already enough of a burden.. Now you can't own a dog. We've had officers shoot dogs in my area, when the dog goes to attack the officer, it's going to get shot, which is unfortunate, but it's what they're going to do. I've not seen a dog charge a person where it didn't go in for a bite. Growling and being defensive is different.

But there's also within all of this the assumption that an ex-convict WILL break the law again. So they lose their 1st/2nd amendment rights (voting/bearing arms), and now can't have a dog, either.

This seems like another case of creating a law for something that really should be covered by existing case law. A dangerous animal can be used as a weapon, and I'm sure that can be easily argued under existing case law. And that having an animal attack an officer is either negligence (allowing the animal to do so of it's own volition), or is assault with a deadly weapon (training/ordering the animal to attack, like police dogs are).

Thierry M.October 28, 2005 1:51 PM

Big dogs are a threat to society. Too many of them received no education at all, or worse were trained to be aggressive, and are really dangerous. That they are owned by convicted felons or by ordinary people is an irrelevant detail.

sanitation departmentOctober 28, 2005 2:06 PM

big dog == big environmental hazard

if walked by somebody with a prior record of not being sufficiently socially adjusted to maybe clean up after such a beast. besides, companionship and those pet-visiting programs you hear about and the like are feckless psychotherapeutic poo, unless the pooch is petite

ShuraOctober 28, 2005 2:17 PM

@Thierry M.: that's total rubbish. Any dog can be trained to be aggressive, and even a Yorkshire Terrier can give you some nasty wounds (I'm speaking from experience here). Of course bigger dogs can do more damage, but the claim that "too many of them [...] are really dangerous" (which also seems to imply that "many of them are really dangerous) is false, and "big dogs are a threat to society" is outright laughable. The opposite is true, actually - dogs (big or small) are generally very affectionate, bring their owners happiness, help reduce loneliness, give elderly people someone to care about, guide the blind, sniff out drugs, and do all sorts of other good things.

You're falling for yet another movie plot threat.

Andre LePlumeOctober 28, 2005 2:22 PM

@Thierry:

Even if "big dogs are a threat to society", do you honestly think a 10Kg (think metric!) dog is big?

Dog OwnerOctober 28, 2005 2:26 PM

Being over 20 lbs doesn't make a dog big. An overweight cat can weight that much. That will pretty much limit felons to owning lapdogs. They would be prohibited from owning what most people consider to be medium sized dogs such as border collies.

Cops also just don't shoot charging dogs. There was a case a few years ago in Milwaukee where they shot a chained dog during a no knock drug bust based on bad information from an informant. They did find a tiny amount of marijuana in the house, so that not much came of this and the major paper in town didn't cover it. It was covered by the Shepard Express and the article gave the impression the cops shot the dog because they could, not because there was any threat to them.

There have been a number of other cases in the metro area where cops have shot dogs. In one case the dog was reportedly wagging its tail. Part of being a cop as opposed to say a soldier, is taking some personal risk rather than killing anything or anyone that might pose some risk.

Ari HeikkinenOctober 28, 2005 2:36 PM

I'm not going to argue wether it's right or wrong or wether the law is bad or the society twisted, but in real life it's part of the deterrent anyway. If you commit crimes you risk yourself being labeled as criminal forever.

HildoOctober 28, 2005 3:11 PM

Twenty pounds... a lot of Maine Coon cats are bigger than that - and probably more dangerous than a 20-pound dog.

LygerOctober 28, 2005 3:11 PM

@ Ari

Correct that: "If you are CONVICTED of a crime, you risk yourself being labelled as criminal forever." And even that tends to presuppose that what you did frightens people. Knocking over a 7-11 with a gun for the $150.00 in the till scares people to death. Condemning 10,000 people to unemployment because you bankrupted their workplace by looting $150,000,000.00 from corporate coffers doesn't. Who's the bigger criminal? Now, who's going to have the greater stigma attached to them?

LygerOctober 28, 2005 3:13 PM

From what I understand, not being one myself, one particularly crappy thing about being a felon is that it's almost impossible to find a credible person who'll stand up for you. I don't, for a moment, believe that that a large dog (and 20 pounds doesn't qualify as "large" anywhere I've ever been), is any more dangerous when owned by a convicted felon than it is when owned by anyone else. That having been said, the "once a crook, always a crook" mentality (nod to Woody and Michael Ash) runs deep. Couple that with the widely believed-in entitlement to protected from any possible bad outcome, and I'm not terribly surprised that laws like this are passed. Thierry M's comment about large dogs points to a climate of irresponsibility amoung pet owners across the board - felons or not. A better way to mitigate that risk is simply tougher liability laws - make an untrained or dangerous dog enough of a liability, and people will start taking steps to have the animals properly trained. (Allow insurance companies an out unless the owner can provide proof of training - that should do it...)

Between these concepts, you are left with a general fear of dogs being taken out on felons because they're easy targets, with no acceptable way of defending themselves. You could make the point that racial profiling of "potential terrorists" works under the same premises.

markOctober 28, 2005 3:20 PM

Well all that's all fine - how about reality?

If you actually live in a rough neighborhood in the inner city (as I do) you know exactly what this law is about. And you probably don't feel a whole lot of sympathy for the poor ex-con who is quietly trying to resume his life in the drug trade, who also just happens to need a large attack dog for companionship (and surely not to harasss and intimidate neighbors that might try to force his dealing activities of out of the neighborhood).

Did I mention a friend was mauled by one of these gang banger attack dogs just under two weeks ago and ended up hospitalized with wounds to both of her hands and arms?

Is this measure likely to be effective? Probably not - it will rarely be enforced in all likelihood. But please save the sad stories about the hardships of ex-cons not being allowed to have a puppy. Ex-cons have bigger challenges than pet ownership.

This is not a movie script scenario. This is crap that a lot of (predominantly) poor people have to live with every day.

The real solution lies in reforming the prison system - but until that utopian day, we are left with measures like this that can be used when a particular neighbor starts becoming a problem.

StudentOctober 28, 2005 3:24 PM

Looks like another of those ��?tough on crime��? things to me. The effect will most likely be dubious, if anything good at all:

First of all, if people are interested in having a large and aggressive dog they are not likely to register this fact. So it would not change much there.

People trying to adjust and follow the rules will be most affected. I know dogs are used to help interns “adjust��? at prisons, and when getting out they would be banned from many of the breeds that are bred to be easy to deal with. Such as Golden retrievers and Labradors, not the most vicious dogs around. Also, smaller dogs tend to be far more aggressive then larger dogs.

Aggressive dogs are put to sleep (more or less violently), at least here. I doubt America is any different. So it’s really a ban on owning dogs larger than a certain size.

A person who has served his sentence and been released from prison and paid his fines is supposed to have taken his punishment. Unless the goal is to lock people into a criminal life they should not be punished additionally after they are released. And taking small chips out of their personal freedom like this is certainly not helping.

Davi OttenheimerOctober 28, 2005 3:25 PM

I like all the cat comments, but somehow I don't see the shift...they almost seem an anathema for big (attack) dog owners. Too much independence, or something like that.

What about geese? They can be pretty vicious, and what about the infamous "angry penguin charging...in excess of 100mph". As long as we're talking about very specific yet remote threats, Contra Costa might want to consider prohibiting felons from using fat penguins.

WoodyOctober 28, 2005 3:44 PM

If this was a law in Oakland, or East Palo Alto, or San Jose (South-East Side), I could perhaps see this being about the poor and and the viscious dogs kept in poor areas by drug dealers.

But this is Contra Costa. North Bay bedroom community. Not exactly a massive slum.

I grew up near some low income areas in Flint, MI. Beecher has a large number of dogs with rottweiler and german shep. blood. They're not all owned by gang bangers and drug dealers. Mostly they're owned by people who know that they're great animals, and are a visible, audible thread to harassment and breakins. I've been in a number of neighborhoods where the large dog that barks at all strangers, the large confederate flag in the window, and the signs "beware of the dog" and "protected by .357" are considered "essential" to keeping your house safe. Won't help with the driveby's, but it helps with people trying to break in when you're not home, or even when you are home.

I place this firmly into knee-jerk reactionism (kid was mauled by an ex-con's guard-dog).

Making things like this illegal when they already are (negligence, etc) is not a solution. Making things even more illegal, "before the bite" as the quote says, doesn't change reality. I dont see this stopping things from happening. Kids will still get attacked by improperly trained dogs, and kids will still be attacked when they go poking at dogs through the fence with a stick.

RvnPhnxOctober 28, 2005 3:46 PM

Well, it seems pretty damned obvious to me that all of this wanting to punish people forever (as if they are soul-less robots) and putting of the blame for social problems solely on the convicted is plainly wrongheaded. Why does the US of A have the highest crime rate of ALL developed countries (per capita)? Perhaps it is because we, the individualists, can't possibly bother to care about other people's conditions (which, by the way, would lead to greater security for all and eventually less crime as people find that they need not "break the law" to feed themselves)?
By relegrating past criminals to be treated as present criminals we only encourage them to be future criminals. In fact, if somebody does their duty and serves out their debt to society and then is still being punished for a crime that they supposedly already "paid for" then they have no incentive to continue to follow the law. This is part of why deterrent arguments will always fail. (The other reason is that most crimes are not rationally and logically planned activities, and those that are are not a product of inclusive behavior by society--they are usually the result of clan behavior. Think gangs, drug dealing, and Mafia activities for individuals and RICO for corporations.)
So, in my opinion, this is just the product of yet another group of "high and mighty" "city upon a hill" type people going out and declaring that they are more worthy than everyone else and that because of that they can engage in what would otherwise be called terrorism to shape the behavior of those "less desireable people." Sounds a whole hell of a lot like a watered-down form of the Third Reich's behavior when put into these kinds of terms--because in fact it is the same class (although not as developed or institutionalized--and therefore not as ugly to some people; and not solely based upon race, so it isn't genocidal) of behavior.
I know I'm going to offend a lot of people by saying this--but they should get off of their moral high horses and start trying to do something positive! We do a little here by having an open discourse--and I'm sure that most of us do some in the outside world, but lets try to make that something positive and strengthening of the rights of all people.
This legislative act, although it may seem reasonable on the outside is an abomination--and I've already said why. Would you accept such a restriction upon your life?

JarrodOctober 28, 2005 3:58 PM

@Woody:

Technically, there is no enumerated "right to vote." The first mention of how a person cannot be excluded from voting didn't come until the 15th Amendment, when race was barred as a factor. Gender and age (provided a citizen is over 18) followed later.

havvokOctober 28, 2005 3:59 PM

[bsd zealotry]
@Davi
So are you really asking Contra Costa to ban Linux? [Sorry.. Fat Penguin.. had to take the shot. ]
[/bsd zealotry]

Back to reality, as far as:
'This is just an example of a larger trend in society, namely the idea that a person who is once a criminal is always a criminal.'

Yes, yes indeed. This is the way it works; you commit a crime, you are a criminal. If you are convicted, you become a convict, and when you complete your sentence, you become an ex-convict.

The only time you become an ex-criminal is when you have been granted amnesty.

Criminals are treated differently than normal people, because they have been corrupted, and corruption is absolute.

anonymousOctober 28, 2005 4:09 PM

Actually, an interesting note is that they make it clear they're not talking about the breed... meaning that a felon could, in good faith, obtain a dog which only later shows agressive tendencies, and wind up back in jail. I certainly hope that the crime isn't a felony itself, or under 3 strikes it may well hit them with a life sentence.

WoodyOctober 28, 2005 4:21 PM

The fact that it's not breed-specific, and individual behavior of the dog specific is a nice bit of the law, and it's extended to non-ex-convicts as well, although they need to handle the situation differently (they can keep the dog, but they have to "know" that it's dangerous, and the dog loses it's "dangerous" blemish after 3 years and some training classes for owner/dog).

Which in that case, makes it the best "bad dog behavior" statute that I've seen. But the extension to ex-convicts I don't like. I also don't like that they can't bear arms or vote, at least based on our current system, where a lot of "victimless" crimes will land you into this situation.

AdrianOctober 28, 2005 4:41 PM

There have been a number of incidents in southern California in 2005 where gang members have turned their dogs loose on approaching police. The gang members get into their cars and drive away while the police must fend for their lives in crowded public places, often having to shoot the dogs to escape injury. Some of the police have commented that both the dogs appeared to have been trained to attack uniformed people, and that this was not a diversionary tactic to cover other crimes, but rather the sole intent. Perhaps retailation for an arrest or other event.
While the motivation of the CCC supervisors is unknown to me, I can only guess that incidents like this have police scared for their safety, and have in turn urged the county supervisors into such consideration. While certainly a scary 'what if' scenario, there is no proof that this legislation makes anyone safer. And while I have a personal beef with scumbags owning dogs, especially those who could treat an animal so horribly as produce viscious behavior, I just do not see how you can either unilaterally assume ex-felons will act in this manner, or that this would make the general public safer if they were denied owning a dog. A car, a hammer, a cross-bow or just about any heavy blunt object could be used by a determined felon to cause injury.

Davi OttenheimerOctober 28, 2005 5:05 PM

Speaking of prisoner rights and release, I am a little puzzled why the following story on data integrity isn't making bigger waves in the news:

http://www.wlns.com/Global/story.asp?S=4004197

"A flaw in computer programming caused State jails to release 8 prisoners anywhere from 39-161 days early, prisoners who were doing time for everything from embezzlement and drugs to bad check writing…A followup study by the Department of Corrections found 15 more prisoners who were either let out early or late."

Ooops. Who let the dogs out.

And here's the actual state audit report:

http://www.audgen.michigan.gov/digests/05_06/...

Not to dump on Michigan, but the above story is an interesting follow-up to the earlier problems they reported:

http://subscript.bna.com/SAMPLES/pvl.nsf/0/...

Michael AshOctober 28, 2005 5:16 PM

@ havvok

"Criminals are treated differently than normal people, because they have been corrupted, and corruption is absolute."

Even if we just restrict ourselves to felonies and not all crimes, do you really believe that somebody who is convicted of a crime such as impersonation of a police officer should become a permanent member of an underclass, prevented from even very basics of life in a democratic society, such as the right to vote?

If your answer is yes, then so be it. You have a right to your opinion, certainly, but we will have to agree to disagree in that case.

jammitOctober 28, 2005 6:00 PM

I really don't have much of a problem with this. It's true that anything could cause harm, all the way from dogs to nail clippers. The people who were released from prison after serving their time have been punished, but haven't yet proved they can operate and contribute within society. As time progresses, they get more and more bans lifted. I would like the non voting ban lifted. That's one place that anybody can and should participate in. Another thing I would want is better re-integration. That would be helpful in getting these guys a job. Probably the biggest reason the ex-cons get a dog is because they need (want?) a replacement for a gun.

havvokOctober 28, 2005 6:31 PM

@Michael Ash

We will certainly disagree on the topic, but you posed an interesting scenario.

If someone (maliciously) impersonates a police officer they are attempting to subvert the position of trust that the police are supposed to hold in a society.

This type of malicious act is not an attack on a single individual or entity, but rather on the entire society. I am a major supporter of significantly stronger penalties for those who abuse positions of trust, either through impersonation of such a position, or unlawful use of the position by a legitate person.

Now, if the case is someone is charged with impersonating a police officer because they were carrying a uniform to a set where they were acting the role of a police office, then this is a non-malicious use, and if there is a law on the books that bans this use unless rules are followed, and the user ignores the rules, it should be a civil infraction.

By the way, for the record, a criminal is someone who has either commited a crime, or been legally convicted. Sadly some people are wrongfully convicted and labelled a criminal, but being a convict is not a prerequesite for being a criminal. This is (in my opinion) one of the primary disconnects between ethics and law.

Christopher ArnoldOctober 28, 2005 8:25 PM

"...prohibiting convicted felons from owning any dog that is aggressive or weighs more than 20 pounds..."

Is that an OR or and XOR?

I have a 30# beagle that is the world's biggest sissy yet I remember a person in college who had a nasty chinchilla that walked on a leash like a dog yet weighed a few pounds. Should I put my dog down in favor of this or should I turn her over to some govt agency? I want to do the right thing.

I also have an infant that displays canine-like behavior in that he likes to put human appendages into his mouth and bite them. Perhaps he should be added to the "do not carry" list of TSA objects? I can easily imagine a situation where an airline terrorist takes my child, breaks into the cockpit and shoves the child into the face of the pilot. "Oh...it's a cute little ba....DEAR GOD, GET IT OFF OF ME!!! I CAN'T HOLD ON!!!" Teething infants, you never know what they are capable of.

BTW, my baby loves my dog. Is there a TSA correlation engine that prevents either one of them from flying together?

-CMA

USAanonOctober 28, 2005 9:29 PM

There are a lot of innocent people getting convicted of felonies too. One I know of: bad person harasses some random stranger he decided he didn't like, then calls the police while stalking the stranger (i mean the "stranger" is a stranger to the "bad person"). The bad person then tells the police that the stranger molested his daughter while baby-sitting her. (The daughter has been through all of this before and already knows what to say and do and even what the story will be.) the stranger is arrested at some point and is eventually faced with the decision to either plead guilty (no one is listening to the defense as it is a hate crime and proof is hard to come by so defense is basically guilty by default in eyes of prosecutors and many judges) or drag all of family and church and neighborhood into the courtroom (making the stranger suddenly and extremely unpopular). there was a "witch-hunt" of sorts for child molesters in the U.S.A.'s history....'80's I think. Most defendees will fight right up till they can get the best deal and then plead guilty. You obviously already know what their lives get reduced to.

Let's also not forget that if any felon ever intended to commit another crime, then they are not likely to care about the law when it comes to things like guns, dogs, etc. It would be pointless to do so. terrorists know this. It is because terrorists know this and operate accordingly (no respect for bail, gun controls, etc.) (in addition to being hard to identify before the fact, their use of identity theft as well, and their desire to maximize damages and victims) that they are such an extreme threat. Think a felon will be any different (except for maybe the type of crime they intend to commit)?

NickOctober 29, 2005 2:06 AM

Not sure if anyone mentioned it ... but the Dianne Whipple dog mauling case (San Francisco) involved husband-and-wife attorneys who were 'keeping' two Presa Canario mastiffs for a felon serving a term up at Pelican Bay. The 20-pound limit probably fits most pit bulls nicely.

Question is, is it reasonable to classify a dog as a lethal weapon? Why would we allow a convicted felon, even one who is now on parole, possess a weapon on four legs as opposed to one that sits in a desk drawer or a holster?

But how do Contra Costa Co. authorities intend to enforce this law? Sneak-and-peek searches? Using a felon's pet store shopping loyalty card data?

Fazal MajidOctober 29, 2005 3:06 AM

Keep in mind the law also protects the dogs. I have seen pit-bulls that were clearly raised to be fighting dogs, and victims of horrific abuse (cigarette burn scars, beatings, botched surgeries on tails and ears, and so on), probably with the theory this would make them more vicious, and then abandoned when they did not turn out that way.

Singling out convicted felons would probably cover only a minority of the dogs at risk. A better measure would be to have them registered and have regular inspections, e.g. by the ASPCA.

Watching Them, Watching UsOctober 29, 2005 3:56 AM

In the UK, the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991,

http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts1991/...

which applies to everyone in the UK (except Scotland), not just felons, is still remembered as a classic example of useless legislation by polticians who feel that they have to "be seen to be doing something to make the public safer", after some hysterical media hype.

Needless to say, some dogs still maul children now then, as they have always done.

The drug dealing criminals who used to favour a Pit Bull Terrier, a Japanese Tosa, a Dogo Argentino or a Fila Brasileiro, immediately started to use crossbreeds to intimidate the public or the police, which are exempt from this list of banned breeds of dog.

The Government has never spent any money on the enforcement of the more general "any ferocious dog" type powers.

CassandraOctober 29, 2005 8:02 AM

Slightly off topic, but, isn't is interesting to contrast the USA where ex-felons have no right to vote, and the debate in the UK over allowing people in prison to vote, as not allowing them to apparently infringes their human rights.

The US system appears not to allow for the possibility of reform of criminals. Countries that do encourage reform have lower recidivism rates.

What's this to do with security? Well, the 'once a criminal always a criminal' assumption works less well than encuraging individual reform in fighting crime, so why persist in using a less efficient system? It decreases everybody's security overall.

Cassie

another_bruceOctober 29, 2005 10:10 AM

it does us no good that i can see to prevent the ex-con from owning a golden retriever, however, it is well known that in some neighborhoods, vicious dogs are deliberately kept at some houses as a security adjunct to illegal businesses being run out of those houses. breed-specific legislation might be more precisely targeted, but the pit bull people are thus far sufficiently well-organized to prevent this, and defense counsel will surely say "that isn't a pit bull, it's an american staffordshire terrier!"
about 220 years ago, our founding fathers had the opportunity to write pet ownership into the bill of rights, but declined to exercise it. like them, we must prioritize our issues, objectives and responses, even our indignation. some felon in coco county is forever barred from labrador love, he'll just have to carry his own water through the courts and the legislature without my help. it's a dog-eat-dog world!

davOctober 29, 2005 10:24 AM

This makes sense to me. Dogs and guns are pretty comparable. Both are deadly if misused. I know a couple of felons, and they aren't raising fat beagles, they have some pretty mean pit bulls. Of course one of the reason's is because they aren't allowed guns.

I was over at one of their houses one time and he was in the back yard practicing with a bow and arrow. He's always thinking.

And by the way, none of the felons I know had much trouble getting a job. They have to work hard for a living but what do you expect with no education. Laying brick pays more than my IT job too.

DMOctober 29, 2005 6:38 PM

I understand that Australia has banned certain breeds of dogs, as criminals were buying attack dogs, especially after the gun bans went into effect about 10 years go.

Seems like a reasonable step to me. Why exactly do people need dog bred to kill?

J.D. AbolinsOctober 31, 2005 6:56 AM

Having a wife who is blind and us having experience with dog guides for the blind, I see a potential for an unintended consequence for some blind people.

Generally, a dog guide is over 20 pounds in order to be strong enough and sturdy enough for its duties. (Susan's last dog was a 110 pound German Shepherd). A "Seeing Eye Chiauhaua" is not going to do well.

Ex-cons can and do lose their sight. Guide schools vary in their assignment or client acceptance, but, to my knowledge, no major school has a blanket "no ex-cons" policy.

Maybe the Contra Costa County will insert a service animal exemption to avoid an discrimination to handicapped people snarl but even that leads to another potential snarl. In many areas of the US, the designation of "service animal" is loose, not requiring certification from recognised schools, disabilities services, etc.

Modest proposal for Contra Costa: Add a ban for prosthetic limbs for felons. Some of the prosthetic arms could be used a weapons and might enhance ability to commit future crimes. Help them get and keep job jobs? Well, they have thought of that first before doing the deed.

J.D. Abolins

J.D. AbolinsOctober 31, 2005 7:07 AM

@Cassandra

Minor note:

The ability for US people convicted of felonies and who have completed prison, probation, and/or parole sentences to vote varies among the states. Many states allow ex-convicts who have completed their sentences to vote.

The recent US Presidential elections and the focus upon Florida's votes brought that state's lifelong disenfranchisement of felons. (BTW, there are avenues for restoration of voting. Governor's pardon is a common one.)

You may find this Washington Post article of interest: Why Can't Ex-Felons Vote? at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/...

J.D. Abolins

jayhOctober 31, 2005 9:44 AM

@DM
>>Seems like a reasonable step to me. Why exactly do people need dog bred to kill?

That's total nonesense. There are NO 'breed to kill' dogs. Even the 'scary' Rotts and 'pits' (there is not actual breed called pit bull) are not by nature aggressive killers--though they often have a sense of strong loyalty which some people utilize in making them aggressive. The vast majority (which don't make the papers) of these animals are well socialized companions. By and large, dogs reflect the personalities of their owners.

[hmmm that 20 lb limit pretty much wipes out all seeing eye dogs]

(as a side point, quite a few police officials have suggested dogs as a 'safer' home security device than having a gun)


David HarmonOctober 31, 2005 10:21 AM

The USA's criminal justice system has been decaying for several decades, to the point where most jails barely make a pretense of trying to rehabilitate anyone. Instead, the focus has shifted entirely to punishment, much of it meted out by fellow prisoners.

For several years there have been a stream of laws, extending various prohibitions and continued persecutions to those convicts who manage to "escape custody" by actually finishing their sentences. The classic is "Megan's Law", a Scarlet Letter for "sex offenders", just to make sure that they can never, ever, leave their crime behind them. Forbidding them dogs is small potatoes by comparision!

Of course, disenfanchising ex-felons is a good way to muzzle the minority and low-income types who might otherwise object to police corruption and violence, prisoner abuse, and ongoing persecution after release.

markOctober 31, 2005 11:55 AM

If you look at the money we spend on prisons, it is worth wondering why they do so little to rehabilitate anyone. When gang bangers in my neighborhood serve time, they come back as better skilled and better connected criminals. In other words, we are less secure once they've served their time, and all this despite that fact that the yearly cost of incarceration is comparable to our more prestigeous colleges.

You can pretend that this law is out to hurt poor people - it really helps those in poor neighborhoods that cannot leave and that have to live with violent criminals every day.

The bigger solution requires dealing with poverty and creating better educational opportunities - but this is very hard and Americans prefer spending money for prisons over money for inner city education and other services. Since most Americans don't have to live with these conditions, they have little incentive to fix them in any but the most reactive way.

paulOctober 31, 2005 2:32 PM

Putting civil liberties issues to one side, I read this as an attempt to limit the ability of convicted felons to use dogs as weapons. People do this: there have been several references to it in the comments above.

And it bears noting that this ban specifies felons, ie those convicted of a federal crime. You won't find your pet choices limited for parking infractions.

I'm not sure the law, as described, is well-designed: the weight restriction doesn't make a lot of sense, for example.

So is this a movie threat plot or some kind of security theater? Or is the risk so low compared the consequence of reduced freedom that we should ignore it?

averrosOctober 31, 2005 5:49 PM

Mmmm... how about permitting Californians to carry concealed handguns with them so they can defend themselves against vicious dogs and vicious humans? This will greatly diminish usefulness of dogs as attack weapons while preserving their value as sentinels and defenders. I strongly suspect that any mauling attack by a vicious dog on a random passer-by is preceded by a chain of near escapes, and so presents plenty of opportunity for armed citizens to dispatch the vicious animal before somebody gets killed.

Nahhhh... no way the local socialists will allow people to defend themselves.

Frank McGowanOctober 31, 2005 7:11 PM

@Paul
"...this ban specifies felons, ie those convicted of a federal crime..."

I am not a lawyer, but my understanding is that *any* crime punishable by a year (or more) in prison is a "felony."

Can a lawyer clear this up for us?

LiamNovember 1, 2005 12:56 AM

Well, the 20# limit is really simple to understand. It's far easier to weigh a dog than to convince a board/judge/etc. that the dog is vicious. I think the limit is too low (I like larger dogs. My lower limit for a pet dog is 50#.) This is simply an attempt to make the law enforceable without ever having to get into any area of subjectivity. I don't think it will be any more enforced, however.

another_bruceNovember 1, 2005 7:38 AM

@frank mcgowan
you are correct. felony is the most serious crime category, above misdemeanors and infractions.

jayhNovember 1, 2005 8:13 AM

>>I think the limit is too low (I like larger dogs. My lower limit for a pet dog is 50#.) <<

Absolutely, 20# is a VERY small dog. The typical nonthreatening household pet is 35-40#. Assuming they want to prevent large, dangerous attack dogs, a 40# would be much more appropriate.

This is a potential 'leverage' issue, it gets a very bad precedent on the books because few groups (including dog organizations) are willing to go to bat for 'ex cons'. Once the precedent is well established, legal assaults may move onto other dog owners.

[my dog is 75#, built like a linebacker, and tends to frighten people, even though she is quite harmless]

woofNovember 1, 2005 9:50 AM

What about seeing-eye dogs, or other aid dogs? Most are Labradors, which are generally alot more than 20lbs.

Davi OttenheimerNovember 1, 2005 10:16 AM

@ jayh

I always wonder when I hear someone say their dog "tends to frighten people, even though she is quite harmless".

Big knives and guns, clubs, etc. tend to frighten people, but they too are harmless when at rest...it seems to me that this is not the best argument for calming fears about potential risk. And that's not to mention the fundamentally different pet-owner v. pet-stranger risk calculations.

Christopher ArnoldNovember 1, 2005 10:55 AM

Hmmm...I wonder how dangerous my 30 lb. beagle is. She could lick someone into submission.

-CMA

ProbitasNovember 1, 2005 11:47 AM

Looking to buy:
A 19 pound dog with a nasty disposition. Must be fearless and fully grown.

jayhNovember 2, 2005 7:49 AM

@davi
>>seems to me that this is not the best argument for calming fears about potential risk

I'm not sure I was making an argument for calming fears... but it does raise the question as to why I should be obligated to pander to someone else's perceptions of danger. I keep my dog controlled, but I don't apologize for her size or her appearance.

Interestingly there often is an irrational difference in perception; for example why are Swiss Army knives (even with locks) generally perceived less threatening than a lock back style of the same size blade?

DavidTCNovember 2, 2005 1:05 PM

The problem isn't felons, the problem is aggressive dogs, and the fact we consider it okay to let them threaten people.

Well, it shouldn't be. Owning a big dangerous dog should be treated roughly similiar to owning, say, a sword. Sure, it's legal to own, and legal to keep safely on the wall. It's even legal to use it to defend yourself.

But you start waving it around, or even walking around and yelling at people while wearing it, and you can get charged with assault.

We need to do the same thing to people with dogs.

And if you're walking around with a sword, and accidentally cut someone...you know what? They don't destroy the sword. The owner gets *sued*, and possibly even arrested.

If you let a dog you know to be dangerous wander around, you should be threated like someone who's wandering around swinging a sword blindly and missing people by chance. If you use dogs to threaten someone, you should treated as if you used a sword to threaten them.

Doesn't matter if you're a felon or not.

Now, whether or not we should let felons possess weapons at all, be their guns, swords, or dogs, I don't know.

But the problem isn't the weapons. The problem is that society treats 'threatening people with a dog' as different from any other weapon, because it is 'the dog' that's doing that. Well, tough. Dogs are not responsible for their actions, their owners are.

SomethingToCallMeNovember 10, 2005 1:43 PM

Folks: "Once a criminal, always a criminal" is a bad policy. Period.

Now, why? It's bad because it creates a self-sustaining, ever-increasing category of people who don't have any incentive to participate in the social contract. Do you want them inside the tent, pissing out, or outside the tent, pissing in?

It's also a poor tactical decision because it puts people in a situation where they have (or perceive that they have) nothing left to lose. One should not ever do this, in any situation where one plans to excercise an option other than a "terminal" one.

Keep it up, and you'll have suicide attackers galore from within the US and not just from beyond the borders. Always make sure that if you intend to leave your opponent alive, that they're in a stable, sustainable position.

SpikeNovember 16, 2005 6:56 PM

@Woody

"this is Contra Costa. North Bay bedroom community. Not exactly a massive slum."

Many people fail to remember that the city of Richmond is in Contra Costa county. That city has a violent crime rate that, in some cases, far surpasses the national average -- Richmond is nearly as bad as its much larger and more-maligned neighbor to the south, Oakland.

http://richmondca.areaconnect.com/crime1.htm

To argue that CC county has no slums, you must not live here, or you live in denial.

Maybe the "felon" criteria is the problem here. Aggressive, large dogs are a problem wherever they are, no matter who owns them. This law is not intended to solve the problem of aggressive animals, owned by non-criminals living in multi-million dollar homes in the wealthy eastern Contra Costa suburbs. But maybe it should.

john doeJanuary 26, 2006 9:08 AM

I think it's time to just quit playing games
let's go back to the 1800's where we tried on monday and hanged on tuesday.
It would solve all of problems that really do not exist. the big picture is let's blame
someone else for the mess our elected
leaders have created.

Super CitizenFebruary 12, 2006 6:06 AM

The police are gay and video inocent civilians. A good in depth investagation into American practice will unveil a different image. It is just a matter of time.

bornrebelFebruary 25, 2006 11:27 PM

I enjoy reading all of your assumptive comments on the stereotypical convicted felon (quite humorous). Now let me educate you. I am a convict, of a 3rd degree felony which is non-violent in nature; vehicular homicide; which I might add was purely an accident, not drug or alcohol related. Before serving time in prison, I served (honorably) four years in the 82nd airborne division and studied music and natural science in high school.........
Years later, I had a terrible accident and was convicted; did my time and got out. The time I served did more to worsen my attitude toward authority and man's law; I have little respect for either. The idea that I am no longer able to bear arms frightens me, it leaves me wide open to an array of danger including that by the police. I did vote however in the 2004 election against our current "dictator." Also, I have a large dog ( half great dane and half lab) which is a big baby. The neighborhood children come here to play with him and adore him. He is however, a very good watch dog and if someone with a threatening demeanor approached, he would eat them alive. He is not my weapon ( my hands and feet are), he is my friend. So if there is a law passed in the 'great' state of Ohio against felons owning large dogs I will difinitely be offende and writing to my congressman, and possibly threatening to kick his ass. By the way, I am not a violent person, but the one thing prison did teach me was to stand up and fight for freedom. If you dont, you will lose it, especially to politicians and law enforcement officials.
I would also like to add, that after being release from the "dept of correction and rehabilitation" I went to college for four years and now work in a hospital, serving humanity.
One other thing, those whom are convicted of sex crimes, especially against children, should loose all rights as a citizen............hell, they should be killed upon conviction.

Just_Another_FelonMarch 10, 2006 7:08 AM

I am also a convicted felon from charges over eleven years old. The current stigma associated with felony convictions is overpowering. I am a skilled, educated worker, and yet I must enter into every job interview apologizing for my history before I am even evaluated on my long, detailed resume. I am a white collar worker and have had several issues locating persons who actually believe in the dynamic nature of human personality and have faith in the rehabilitative capabilities of the justice system. I am aware of the high recidivism rate amongst persons in my position, but at what point, exactly, will I be forgiven for my youthful indiscretions? Is my punishment to be permanent? I have restored my right to vote, but I can never own a firearm, serve in the armed forces, hold certain public offices, et cetera. What kind of citizen am I, then? Even a pardon from the State would require me to acknowledge the convictions on job applications. It's a Catch-22.

Why does the State fear convicted felons so much that we must be summarilty disarmed, silenced, and disenfranchised economically through stringent, unforgiving HR policies? Arew they admitting to the failure of their own corrections programs? If we are dangerous for life, why release anyone? I was not even determined dangerous enough to incarcerate, yet I am permanently punished. Non sequitur, yes?

-Just_Another_Felon

Roddrick MarshallApril 4, 2006 8:09 PM

As a five time convicted felon, I know about incarceration and re-entry. It's a serious situation and surviving in the freeworld is a everyday war. I'm always proving critics wrong when it comes to re-entry and those who believe a convicted felon can only bring about more crime and a negative vibe. Check me out, I'm holding a full pardon (12-03), a mentor at Chatham Juvenile Court, CASA, and I speak to many groups in the community (no-fee) and I stay in contact with inmates to provide a much needed sense of direction so that they will have something to work with upon their release and there's so much more that I'm involved with in the community. Please feel free to contact me at P.O. Box 60622 Savannah, GA 31420 (912)341-2460 Encourage peace and Spread love

KevinApril 27, 2006 10:58 PM

I am a 27 year old "felon". I was conviceted of a felony for snatching a purse ten years ago. Never served time in prison and have never been in trouble since. I was told at the time that I should make every attempt to rehabilitate myself and "turn my life around".
The fact of the matter is that When it happened I was homeless, jobless, my father was hopelessly addicted to drugs and my mother couldn't afford to keep me around. I grew up in an environment where nearly everyone I know is a felon literally. My father and I even had the same probation officer.
These additional restrictions and the price that is continuosly exacted on people falling into this category are a definite form of discrimination because of the way that people are charged and sentenced in the first place. Let's face it, none of us are innocent here, white collar crimes aside, there are huge discrepancies between the rates at which people are charged with felonies and different degrees of felonies for similar crimes in the first place. This then becomes a snowball effect that results in overcrwoded prisons, recitivism, and the overall prison culture which is so prevalent in certain parts of society today.
Despite what certain people may believe, I for one, am not a criminal, nor am I corrupted to any degree. I have had some adversity in my life, much of which has been beyond my control and the rest of which I lacked the maturity, wisdom, and experience to handle much better on my own. This is the same for many of my childhood friends that have been in the same situation. The sensationalism that is associated with anti-crime and national security is a mechanism of politacal influence for people who want to get elected to office by praying on the fears of the public in order to accomplish their own personal agendas. It is common knowledge that even our beloved president was involved in an illicit and criminal lifestyle in his day. Is he inherantly more capable of reform than the next man? Certainly some people will handle it better than others, if your rookie gives up a couple early homeruns you might go to the bullpen on him, but you don't take him off the team or more accurately ban him from the league, do you? I effect that is what is going on in society today and it's completely irrational and it costs everyone a good deal of money except for those who happen to own private prisons. We have a whole class of underemployed born and bred Americans who could fill in the gap and we would rather open the borders? We'll go to war in the middle east over oil and terrorism but not in Central and South America with drug cartels whose products are killing off tens of thousands of people in the US all the time?! We invest money to train foreign workers to and outsource our work to third world countries and disenfranchise our compatriots?! We are a society of anti-socialites....that are paranoid and packing heat. God help us. I am a 20 something college graduate that works for minimum wage who hasn't had a stitch of legal trouble since before I was old enough to enroll in college as a freshman. Where are our priorities. I'll just end this by saying that I'm not in favor of too many people possessing firearms or big dogs other than the police PERIOD!

John DoeMay 13, 2006 5:39 PM

Not all exfelons are criminals!

After beginning my first business in 1995, I partnered with an import/export company that sold various wholesale medical products to other countries. One of our external customers was diverting product to an undisclosed location prompting an internal investigation.

We maintained proper documentation of all our clients and adhered to all regulations set forth by various entities. Yet, the result of the investigation placed an undue burden on the company.

The company and its sales force as well as corporate suppliers were indicted of having reasonable suspicion that the import/export company may have known what the driver’s intention or location was.

The company along with its members facing the situation that was brought before them realized that this was a fight the company could not win. As of today, we still don't know the intended location or why the driver took a different route.

Subsequently, the final result was that its members pleaded guilty to the reasonable suspicion charge.

I served a 15 month sentence at a federal camp. I became an exfelon after my release.

The sad part of all this is that my record is marred for life and who I was and what I did in my life does not matter.

I have an MBA degree, served in desert storm for the Air Force, earned a radiology degree as an x-ray tech, have earned awards from various institutions, I have excellent sales and marketing skills with a proven track record, I am an author and publisher, I have received awards from the Small Business Development Center and SCORE, I am a father of two boys and have a lovely wife, I am a assistant coach for my sons soccer league, I don't do drugs, I don't drink alcohol nor do I watch Monday night football. I am a family man with values and ethics who was tangled unfortunately in a web I cannot escape from

Yet, I am judged from a single moment in time, a part of my life that equals only 2% of my entire existence.

I cannot find viable work.

If I put yes to the question of having a Felony they don't hire me.

If I put no to the question of having a Felony they will find out the truth and fire me.

The stigma lays heavy like metastatic cancer racing through my porous cancellous bones. It is a grasp that holds on like a starving leach.

The system I embraced, the system I laved my life for in battle has cursed me like a venomous viper. The sting lays heavy on my weakened body.

I who was a man, a strong man able to command decisions have been laid to rest on a never ending walk of shame.

My existence is plagued with visions of the past of what could have been.

The days go by and I see momentum by those who are but less qualified than I, Yet I am left to view from a distant stained glass window.

It is not for me, but for my family sake I pray to be freed from this bondage, this scarlet letter, this branding, this never-ending voyage of hell.

I do not seek pity, I seek only a life, a life I believed in and worked so hard to achieve. A life that was taken by a mistake

At war I placed my life in jeopardy for a cause that I believed in. I was spared only to be killed slowly by the same entity that I fought so hard for.

I look into the eyes of those who interview me. "Sure, we will hire you, no problem" As they turn and throw my resume into the abyss.

My struggle is hard.

My voyage is confusing.

My resolved is beginning to be weakened.

Thomas Edison failed thousands of times making a simple light, yet his failure have brightened an entire world.

I will try to keep on failing until I find my light.

God Bless? I really don't know anymore!

John Doe.

(John Doe, because I don't want to add to the stereotype anymore of who I am online)

thomas swangoMay 18, 2006 10:57 AM

well this is the way that i look at it. i know someone with a felony and they did it when they were 17 and they are 28 and it still haunts him/her to find a simple job. the word rehabilitation is a made up word for politicians so that they can have a suit and a tie. it was a B & E. the sad part is that s/he can't get a job at walmart but a sex offender teacher get's hired...and that's our way of "rehabilitation" s/he doesn't care about voting because i guess that voting is a privalige, s/he just wants a job. s/he is a college graduate and that's the way we treat one another. oh, not to mention those christians who act they have moral ground over everyone else just because they are christian denies him/her a job. um, i thought in the bible it says to forgive people and don't judge. they make me want to become atheist. i know for a fact that in other countries that they don't discriminate because of their past. the felons here in america say "hey, everybody gives up on me, they deny me health, food, and a roof over my head. in prison i can get all 3, i might of just as well give up and do something sooo severe that i go to prison for it." and we hide behind the word god in the phrase "God Bless America"

AnjieJuly 6, 2006 10:58 AM

I am the child of not one but two convicted felons. Growing up I always wondered why we were so poor and as I got older I realised that it was because my parents could not get good jobs. My Mom recieved a felony for bad checks; she served 10 years on Federal probation and my Father served 8 years for fraud. Danderous, hardened criminals huh! But because thay had a "record" that tied them in with the Charlie Manson's on the criminal world we had no Girl Scouts/Boy Scouts, music lessons or any other extra cirricular activities. My siblings and my self have all grwoen up now and like most children of felons, we are a sad group. All of my siblings, my two sisters and one brother, have been addicted to meth and other substances. My brother has earned his first felony while his youngest daughter was being born. Me,myself have had a host of bad relationships and tried numerous substances. On a positive note my siblings are clean today, but struggle for normalicy daily. I am a junior in college recieving my BA in Human Service/ Criminology and a minor in Psychology. Non violent felons should not be lumped with violent offenders nor should the stigma follow the felon all the days og their lives nor influence the lives of the innocent children in concern.

AnonymousSeptember 13, 2006 9:30 AM

So we are not going to let ex-cons own large dogs what next? Maybe we should impose a curfew stating that ex-cons, say all ex-cons have to be in by eight o'clock. Nobody cares until they are the target of abuse by these so called tuff on crime laws. That from my point of view don't seem to be working. Some people make mistakes:have you ever made a mistake? Do you belive that people deserve a second chance?

still doing timeOctober 5, 2006 10:36 AM

did 12 years, been out for a year.
no job and prospects bleak.
think i was better off in prison...
at least i had hope then.

roy essingerOctober 5, 2006 2:26 PM

i been charges with burgulary, and safe cracking in 1995-1998 i was sentence to 3 ans 4 years well i got out april 21, 02 .. ever sense then while staying out of trouble and working , i findly woke up one day relizing theres no climbing that ladder in eployment in ohio, kmart walmart all the stores will not hire anyone who had charges lke mine you cant even have a bonded for other jobs , most states like ohio have this thing called good marol act,, if you have been convicted of a felony you have a 99% chance that you might be working under the table, or some sleezy job, so spending my time in prison for 7 years and yet i relize that being punish is more than doing time, its taking away my life to my own family and grow to become what i always wanted i dont have a problem doing work like scooping shit, but for real who wants to do that for there hole life

PERFIKLYNORMLOctober 11, 2006 10:13 PM

I am a convicted felon in the state of Florida, another uber-conserative state. This has got to be some kind of joke.... They take away our [convicts] right to vote (not that I give a damn what crook is in office), we can never carry a gun again regardless of our crimes, or get a passport, or get a contractors license, or live in gated communities or even a lot of TRAILER PARKS!!! Not to mention all of the MANY occupations that become off limits once you pass through that razor wire.
Being a convict is a life sentence no matter how you look at it, and we are put at a disadvantage from the get-go because of it. The issue here is not about dogs, it's about people that I never have met- nor do I wish to- telling me ,yet again, that I cant do something, or soon might not be able to. B.S. Being a felon is being a socially crippled slave. And I'm white, so dont even go there. But, you know what??? I made it through my time in prison, and I will make it through my time in the real world, no matter how many of my civil liberties they take away. This is just another obstacle that we have to overcome, and all it's going to do is make us stronger in the end. The greatest people in history were prosecuted and persecuted in their own time only to become martyrs and heroes.
What we convicts need to do is stop feeling sorry for ourselves. Go back in your mind to that time when you were in lockdown, then open your eyes and tell me that you dont feel better already. If they had their way we would have all been executed upon our convictions, as it has been in history and still is in some places to this day. If you are a real survivor, then you will find a way to keep a roof over your kid's head, and food in your belly. And THAT, my fellow brothers and sisters is all that really matters. Well, that and tatoos... Everything else is excess and superficial.
Thank you sincerely for your time, and for the sake of humanity open your friggin eyes!

dodgehiltonDecember 11, 2006 3:57 PM

I've been reading some of the comments by people on this site. For the most part I agree with everyone. I myself am a convicted sex offender from the great state of georgia. What did I do to earn that conviction? I sent some images across the internet. That's it. 21 pornographic images (images that could be purchased in any drug store by the way). For that I received 15 years, 2 of which I served, the rest on probation. So, as you may well know, for the next several years I am at the whims of the state, subject to be sent back to prison for any "violation" someone may accuse me of (proof being unneccesary). I have to skip and fetch and bow down to kiss the ass of any "state" representative. I have to be careful of any comment I make to anyone associated with the state, lest I be misinterpreted. I have a set of about 20 different things I can't do, places I can't go, etc. The great state of Georgia makes up the laws as it goes, and right or wrong or fair has nothing to do with it, especially during an election year. They make it as hard as they can to go through all of their little hoops. If one didn't know better you'd swear they get bonuses based on how hard they make it. Going back to prison for the remainder of my probation sounds like a viable alternative at times. Belly aching? Maybe so. But ask anyone who has ever had to deal with the "state" justice system and you're likely to hear another case of "sour grapes". If you've never been in this mess you certainly have no room to comment.

BAJABABYDecember 13, 2006 2:42 PM

Ok, back the bus up....! Now I can't own a dog over 20 lbs! Let me tell you what it is like being a convicted felon... Over 13 years ago, drug charge personal amount got me 5 years.

every once in a while you meet someone that really thinks the past is the past, and if you did your time you paid for your crime. But more often then not, you hear. Sorry your just not quite right for the job, no I don't think she/he would make a good God Parent. You know you can't trust a x-con.. No we wont rent to convicted felons.
Not even the programs that support them while they are on paper will allow then to move into the trailer parks or give them a job....

I have been fighting for 2 years now to land another job, my last one of 5 years closed their doors. So Im a CFO looking for a job, in world of NO FELONS WANTED..... I now understand why so many of my fellow felons go back to crime. Society makes it darn hard to stay clean,sober and honest. I like to eat to, Im not a serial killer, or rapist. I never stolen anything from anyone. I had a cocain problem, and got caught. I didnt sell it to our or your kids, I just carried a lil bottle of white stuff around in pockect and snuffed it up my nose when no one was looking. I never offered it to people, shit I wanted it all me. But 13 years later after doing my time, Im still paying for that 1/2 gram I bought so many years ago.... I am the scum of the earth! wHY BECAUSE i GOT CAUGHT, AND YOU DIDNT??

tHANKS FOR THE 2ND CHANCE..........

dodgehiltonDecember 18, 2006 7:46 AM

I thought that everyone might be interested in seeing this: there is a sight called www.badcopnews.com. There you will find stories taken from the daily news on what some of our "law enforcement officers" and public officials are getting caught doing left and right. There aren't just a few either; apparently alot of closets are getting cleaned out these days. You can look by your particular state to see what the "good guys" in your state are up to. Kind of makes you wonder: might be a time soon when there are no cops, judges, probation officers, lawyers or sheriffs left to proscecute anyone. Now wouldn't that be a switch? I suppose we convicted felons might have to take jobs with the state, reckon?
Of particular interest to me was a story about the GBI agent who was in charge of the investigation of my case, who is now sitting in a federal prison for selling confiscated guns to local pawn shops.
Isn't that just lovely?

BoneDecember 18, 2006 6:52 PM

I'm a convicted felon and I have two large dogs for my protection at home because I am not allowed to have a gun. My dogs, a Belgian Malinios (police dog) and a German Shepherd/rottweiler mix are more bark than bite. I have honed their skills, protective instincts, and physical capabilities personally, and I am proud to have them as my brothers. I live in an area of heavy drug use, however I don't even drink, let alone use drugs. I carry myself as if I were an officer of the law to reassure my neighbors that I am no threat, because I am not. I have taken many steps to protect my personal life in a world that seems too nosey. I vote, I try to pay my taxes on time, I don't want to have anything to do with criminal activity, I have had the same full time job for 2 1/2 years, and didn't miss a day for over two years. But I still struggle because of a crime I was convicted of when I was 17. Burglary to motor vehicle, I didn't even get out of my own car, but my friend did and took me down with him. I just wanted to go home and get ready for school. But no one cares to hear the truth, so anyways. I have two large, potentionally dangerous dogs, and I hope they stay that way, "potentionally". They tell me when the neighbor is sneeking over and peeping throuogh my windows, they tell me when someone pulls in the driveway. They sleep in tactical positions while I am resting, always ready to protect me. These are my boys. And they help me deal with people that I don't want to deal with because I am too damn busy trying to salvage a life that seems more important to my family than to myself at times. I don't leave them loose, because I don't want to have to scrape them off the street. They are both registered and have all their shots, my Malinois even has a chip. My dogs would fight for me, and I would fight for my dogs. If the police can treat their dogs as humans, I can and will as well. Thankfully the police around here wave friendly-like round these parts, unlike back home, I wouldn't even be allowed to sit on the front porch and play with them for long periods of time without being harrassed. Also, my boys get along just fine with children, it's the fear instilled in the children that scares my dogs. But I have specific verbal commands which put my boys at ease, so I'm not worried. What would you do if you lived alone in a strange part of the world, and were told you cannot have a gun to protect yourself? I'm just trying to do good and be good, but it figures that someone wants implement another obstacle for a peace seeking citizen to have to overcome. Thankfully it's only in California anyways, round here, it's still legal to marry your cousin at age 14.

dodgehiltonDecember 22, 2006 5:30 AM

Since we are discussing stupid laws here, I wonder if anyone has done any research as to which state still has the most reasonable sex offender laws? Georgia has gone way over the top on this, making it almost impossible to function (work, a place to live) if you've ever done ANYTHING to land you on their registry. I've been looking into the possibility of relocating to a liveable state until my probation is over. Can anyone help me out here?

dodgehiltonDecember 22, 2006 7:25 AM

By the way, in reference to above request for information about state laws on sex offenders, if anyone has any information I can be emailed at dodgehilton@yahoo.com

Roddrick MarshallDecember 22, 2006 8:22 PM

There are those who believe a convicted felon shouldn't have any thing short of a prison cell. At some point, we must be willing to forgive and work on building stronger communities. I'm working hard to create better ways to re-enter our society and prevent others from engaging in criminal acts. For more information contact me at: P.O. Box 60622 Savannah, GA 31420 marshallfam21@hotmail.com (912)341-2460

DogmanUSMCFebruary 9, 2007 2:38 PM

I was a Marine Corps Scoutdog handler in Viet-Nam 1969 and a convicted felon as a result of an unintentional auto-accident. There were no deaths nor injuries. I can not vote nor have a firearm. I could not even legally have a drink while crossing the USA for my departure to Viet-Nam because I was only 18 nor could I conusume Alchol legally upon my return because I was still under 21. I am a disablled Combat Vet and now people are talking about that I can not have a dog unless it is one of those hand warmers.--------------------Yet someone can come from another country and because they stay here for so many years without an arrest can have the rights and privilidges denied me. Denying someone the right to own a firearm because of his/her violent history is one thing but I can not understand the reasoning behind taking away thier right to vote and now talk of they can not have a dog. DogmanUSMC

jason fultonMarch 23, 2007 10:07 PM

since felons and ex felons are disenfranchised tell me why should weadhere to state and federal laws

barbara jeanApril 13, 2007 2:55 AM

Sometimes a felon is as simple as writing a bad check.I don't understand why a felon who has served his time,completed his parole,and returned home to his family can't be allowed by society to go on to live a productive law abiding life,but you know what some bored self rightious individuals with a god complex just can't live and let live,so they come up with stupid crap like this and thats exactly what it is is CRAP! and who is it going to cost? all of us tax paying citizens.Those bored s___stirring individuals could probably spend a little time cleaning up their own back yard so to speak or at best take up some type of interest to help others instead of causing more anamosity in this world. We lose more rights every day,we need to try to keep the few we have left.

AnonymousMay 5, 2007 6:35 PM

come on people ...get a life. no wonder people keep going back to prison, what more can you say or do to the person who truly wants change in there life.? I GUESS ITS HOPELESS FOR THEM,

drewMay 21, 2007 1:30 AM

I have 2 felony convictions of theft from 5-6 years back, and was wondering if anybody knew of any good career I could get outside of being a server in a restaurant. All I want is to be a productive member of society and get a better life, yet our social norms and standards make this an impossible pipe dream for me. Any feedback would be helpful, thank you

JohnnieJuly 17, 2007 9:04 PM

I wish I could tell my whole story. Not all convicted felons are guilty. My husband, a convicted felon, works all night to care for his family because he can't get a regular job. My HUGE rottie-mix is all I have to protect us. I'd be scared to death without her. I can't have a gun in the house to protect us. The system failed us once already I'm not going to trust it to care for me and mine. Home of the free, yeah, sure.

badlawJuly 21, 2007 6:24 AM

I live in FL i have been convicted of a felony after two years of fighting got my rights restored and a voter card
i still cant get a good paying job do to the background checks, i was convicted over ten years ago, have no arrests, traffic tickets or anything since that time
but yet terrorists in this country have more rights than i do, i made a mistake.
If i dont have the right to support my family in a decent manner I should also loose my right to pay federal,state ,and local taxes, thoose of you who feel a felon should be beaten down every day for the rest of there life perhaps you would like to support our familys, and how many of you people have committed a crime but have not been caught, but your so quick to take away the life of some one who has made a mistake, excluding repeat fellons, child and sex related matters.

PDX_TeeperAugust 24, 2007 1:04 PM

I committed a felony when I was young, it didn't hurt anyone but me... and I paid dearly and still continue to today. I however worked my way through school and have my own very successful business. I am now an American self made Millionaire. I pay A LOT of money in taxes, personal, property, business, sales, auto etc etc. I feel I deserve the right to vote and have earned it. Not all felons are Drug addicts, rapists and murderers. I left my felonious past behind and invented and manufacture something that saves lives all over the world each and every day.
By the way I share my home with 2 very loving 150# lap dogs

shawSeptember 3, 2007 2:14 PM

If you do not like to laws against felonies then do not become one, you should not go to prision as a felony and come out and be treated like the people that have never committed a crime.
I see that most of the people on this forum do not like the laws against felonies because they were one.... Everyone has a choice in life, if you choose to committ a crime then you get what you deserve....

AnonymousSeptember 10, 2007 10:19 PM

Did you know dropping a bomb down a chimney from a bomber aircraft, and killing a family of five is against the law in other cultures? Then televising it in our culture, to show how proud we are of our aircraft should be....oh nevermind. The bomber is politically correct. Right? Forget the innocent family of five or the children involved. Now thats legal!!!!! Hypothetical scenario. Think about it.

Anonymous_UserSeptember 13, 2007 8:38 AM

It is naive to simply say that one should not become a felon if they disagree with the consequences of being such. This is the same mentality that makes people less wary about privacy infringement just because they "have done nothing wrong" and hence have no reason for concern. Here's a golden nugget:

“The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.��? -Ayn Rand

The previous poster "Shaw" is an ignorant fool.

convicted... but still youngDecember 6, 2007 8:44 AM

i have been tried and convicted of three felonies in two states. I have still not reached my 18th birthday. Will my rights be taken away before I am old enough to use them?

AnonymousDecember 6, 2007 8:51 AM

And a note to mister "shaw". I had no say in my criminal activities. I did NOT become a felon by choice. I had to do what I had to do to survive, if that means knocking over a liquor store or two, then so be it. If that means carrying a unlicensed weapon, the so be it. I have to protect myself by any means.

MatthewJanuary 30, 2008 4:09 AM

How about this story:

I am a felon. I am still under supervision. I was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison as well as 8 years of probation. Of course I have no gun or voting rights. I agree with this measure. However, when I have completed my supervisory term I would like to think that I am again an American Citizen. Unfortunately, it's easier thought to be than actually true.

I was convicted (No Lo Contendre) of 2nd degree attempted murder with a firearm in 1998. Let's rewind; in 1997 (I was 18) a friend of mine thought it would be good to steal something out of someone's vehicle. I wasn't there, but he came to my home with the stolen items. Two of the items were firearms. He made fun of the .25 caliber semi-automatic and gave it to me. Yes, I know, I was 18 and dumb enough to accept it. (Quick notation..you would not even consider me a danger, gangster or any other stereotype of society) Months later I relocated to live with my mother and her roommate at the time. One evening he became very violent after drinking a few too many and proceeded to physically harm my mother right before my eyes. I attempted to stop him, but was 140 pounds soaking wet. I went to my bedroom and grabbed the pistol. I came out with the gun clearly visible to everyone and told him to lay off and asked my mother to leave with me. He bumrushed me, forcing me 5 to 6 feet back into a wall where the gun went off. My mother screamed for me to leave so, "panicked!", I ran outside. I threw the gun into a ditch. My neighbor came outside and I told her we needed to call 911. I spoke with 911 myself.

Not having a penny to my name I had to settle for a Public Defender. I was told if I did not accept the plea agreement of the aforementioned sentence I would receive 16 years in prison; that they would convict me of 1st degree just for leaving the room and returning even though my initial intent was not to harm, but to protect. So I did.

Here I am more than 10 years from that fateful night and have begun questioning my own citizenship. I had conceded in my mind that my gun rights would never be restored due to the nature of the crime no matter the rarity of the situation. My other concern is my ability to vote. Why? Why can't I vote? What are we all so worked up about felons voting or not unless there is an advantage to one side or the other. Of course I would love to have my gun rights restored. I probably never will. This discussion brings up good points from everyone.

I think it should be done case by case, but I will say that the state of Florida is way behind on issues such as these (almost Medieval).


I was recently laid off of my job. It isn't easy to gain employment with a felony even if you meet every qualification and are as handsome as I. I am married with a 1-year-old so if anyone who reads this knows of any open positions in the Broward area I can be reached at matthewabln@yahoo.com

I hope my comments are read and at least considered by parties from both sides of this issue. Without great discussion and debate these issues do indeed fall by the wayside and we as Americans would be doing ourselves and those that would mimic our democracy a grave disservice.

I did not choose to be a felon. It was thrust upon me.

tbon5779March 5, 2008 2:54 PM

I have always thought that stupid people should not be allowed to serve on boards of supervisors, but it seems Contra Costa County hasn't outlawed THAT yet!!!

stan wetmoreMarch 27, 2008 9:43 PM

I am a felon and have been considered by authorities to be dangerous;however you ask an old lady in my sisters church if I am dangerous and you will not get a negative answer towards me...I wouldnt need a big dog to be dangerous...now bow your heads and thank Christ Jesus that he forgives even judgemental hypocrites........................

another felonApril 6, 2008 9:39 PM

To: ALL THE FELONS. keep your heads high,nose clean,they still cant hold us down,we have been through WORSE..They will never understand. another FELON

AnonymousMay 30, 2008 10:05 PM

Well, I saved a man's life when I was 18 years old in Broward County Florida. He was about 10 or 15 years older and the man that beat him (whom I stopped) was a Viet Nam Vet. A Puerto Rican from New York.

I was left 'home alone' in the house I was born in on Christmas, 1980 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The attacker and the victim were strangers to me, prior to the incident. They came to a small XMas party I had. The victim's girlfriend stole like $50 from the guy from New York, who started to beat the victim up.

As a teenager, I stepped up to save that man's life several times over the next two day ordeal. In the end, I snuck him out of my house to the hospital where I was born, when the attacker fell asleep.

The victim's statements and his girlfriend's back me up. Yet, the Broward County Sheriff's assaulted me after telling me they knew I helped save the man's life. They said they knew I was not really guilty of anything but being around older, bad people, but they wanted to teach me a lesson.

I had to pay $10,000, agree to 5 years probation to leave that county alive.

I have done nothing for the past 30 years but assist victims of crime, save other peoples lives, received a Letter of Commendation from the Chief of Police of San Mateo, California for saving an elderly woman's life who was having her head beaten in by a man who had assaulted and tried to kill a woman at the same hotel, 8 years earlier. I 'hunted' the man down after he got away and arrested him myself with police assistance.

Almost 30 years later, after having saved more than a couple lives, testified against dangerous, violent 'real' criminals and have a pretty darn good reputation in the corporate world, with law enforcement and victims' groups in several states, that county will not admit its mistakes and undo the wrong. I just found out that I still have a warrant (probation violation - I could not pay the man after the first couple of checks... because I HAD risked my life to save his... on principle).

All I can say is that now I am trying to get help to find out how to get a pardon in Florida or get legal respresentation to perhaps hold that county accountable for false arrest, beating a teenager and for not investigating the case properly to make sure that both me and the victim get justice by seeing the man that beat him, at least be investigated, if not arrested for the crime he committed.

Does anyone know of any post-plea, probation specialists that are familiar with pardons and constitutional laws, etc. ?

I did go to work at Judicial Council in California when I was first put on probation (transferred to California) and read about other cases that were similiar, but I need some experts now.

Thank you and anyone that can help me get justice and have my honor and my name restored.

I want to do more work to help victims of crime, but I can only go so far, until I get the Broward County mess cleared up.

I have committed no other crimes and have no drug addictions, alcohol, etc, and can get letters from victims, prosecutors, law enforcement agents, community groups and other people who know me and have known me for the past 30+ years.

The warrant itself was 'localized' to the county due to my work with other agencies in cases where I witnessed violent crimes and for, perhaps, helping the Florida State Prosecutor once on a case where he was being impersonated by a violent man that had harmed dozens of victims in Washington, that I helped.

For 30+ years, I have been trusted and proven trustworthy and honest in every place I have lived in five states and two countries. That Broward County is the ONLY place on Earth that refuses to acknowledge the truth of this matter and the truth of who I am and always have been.

A man that will risk his life to save others and will never do harm to another or steal or do anything to anyone that I would not want done to myself.

I just need to hear them admit it and set me free of the situation they created, in their haste and in their desire to 'teach' an already honest and innocent person, 'a lesson'.

The lesson I learned was do not judge or trust any person by the color of their skin or the color of the hat or uniform they wear.

Good people are in bad places and bad people are running around loose and free.

Most police officers are decent, others are violent and beat on teenagers. Many 'felons' are guilty of their crimes and too many are innocent people that have been criminalized by violent and corrupt police officers and courts that do not value human lives more than they do money and prestige and power.

Be safe wherever you go. Never be afraid to speak up and defend yourself against anyone, no matter what they look like or the office they hold.

In every office there are good people who will help set an honest man free from tyrants and beaters. It just takes a lot of work to find them.

Chin Up !

Thanks in advance to anyone that can help me.

ccchurchJune 8, 2008 8:46 AM

let me start by explaining that being a convicted felon does not mean you have been locked up. i broke into a empty house three days after my 18th birthday and took some old power tools. i am now 33 and i am still a convicted felon. i did 5 years probation, 5,000 dollars in fines. since this time i have accomplished alot. i earned my h.s.diploma, not a ged but an actual diploma. a 2 year degree in computer networking, got married had two children, and i havent even had a traffic ticket since my arrest in 1993, but the state i commited the crime in will not restore my right to bear arms or vote. if politicians are scared to use the laws thatallow them to pardon then they shouldnt be voted in...but i cant vote so i have no say... but dont be alarmed...my only pet is a chiuaua

ClayOctober 2, 2008 5:16 PM

I was convicted of a crime over 37 years ago, I am, and always will be a felon,my accomplishments in life will never over shadow the stigma of being a convicted felon,this stigma i placed on myself and my family,over the years i have learned to use this negative experience,for a positive life changing tool. It has not been easy over the years to change the mind set of neighbors and friend,but it can be done,some minds you will never win over so forget them and move on with your life. Good jobs are available to convicted felons, you must prepare yourself for them. Go back to school,learn a trade, just because you made bad decision,don't compound it with a life long pity party. Walk tall,keep your eyes looking to your future,and remember YOU are in control of your life.

AnonymousOctober 13, 2008 9:49 PM

I have a cousin who just got out of prison after 14 years (out on good behavior, suppose to be serving 20 years). Well....he is back in the big house to serve his remaining 20 years plus 10, why you might ask, because somebody had a bone to pick with him and started whacking the hell out of him, so he started to throw kicks when he got knocked down. They both got into some trouble, the bone to pick guy got some type of probation but the courts (not in exact words, they talk so confusing) pretty much said that he had no rights to defend himself in any way and throw kicks is a violation of rights he does not have.....WTF. Losing rights to vote is O.K, not able to own a big dog....picky but O.K. But this crap, just plain stupid, but it's my opinion.

Roddrick MarshallSeptember 24, 2009 4:14 PM

Re-Entry is like living in outside cell. So many people expect a convited felon, ex-offender, former inmate to fail. I didn't get that memo. I stay on my legal grind. I refuse to lose and I don't give up instead I get up and go for mine. I work to make a positve impact. I have been featured in many forms of media and I am a serious minded person. The next person can not cause me to fail myself and I will not lose.

grannie from the hoodMay 11, 2010 8:57 PM

I am a non-violent first time offender-I was sold down the river by a court appointed atty.(A much bigger criminal than this 66 yr old grannie..."Conspiracy
to commit wire fraud..(predatory lenders
-c0-defendants did all the work on the loans...)If I didn't know ..I should have known! I have two beautiful Chows. I gave away 50% of my home to make sure my beloved animals would remain on
the property, until I returned. My animals
are loving,kind,devoted, a great source of companionship! Yes..they have a locking bite, like a pitbull....yes, some
can be vicious, aggressive, and independant; while at the same time,
avidly affectionate, extremely protective,
and bond only once in their lives.

The corruption in the courts was a real
shock to me...as well as the treatment
received by the probation officer...my dogs have better manners, exercise more
compassion, and behavior closer to human than does this "dog" who is my
probation officer.

Perhaps, the felon is to be kept in a non-self imposed state of deprevation, negative treatment, plan mean and disrespectful mental persecution...just to
make those in "authority" feel in control and important.

Felons are treated with distain! Why not keep them in an inforced imprisonment...why not take away all
their joy...all their humanity...especially the ones whose crime is not as great as
those with the power to make life in
America as a felon- some sort of cast
system...

It is my ferverent prayer..."Lord, protect
those who are persecuted...and expose
those who exploit and destroy under the
guise of 'correction', with the courts
approval. It is said 'crime is big business;
and it seems the big business comes from
the public defenders, judges, prosecutors
and the probation officers, especially those who delight in 'punishment'

It is said...without a vision, my people
will perish...it is so easy for those in
power to discourage, beat down the smallest modicum of hope..

So many of these laws are just a means
of punishment without reason. It is said
"a righteous man is good to his beast"...
let the felon alone...and let the animal be
one little thing that can still matter to him or her.


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