Thomas Pauli R.I.P: Winter weather brought Thomas Pauli’s death but the real cause was draconian laws that drive people into poverty and homelessness. Thomas had a serious scrape with the law many years back and paid a price, serving 11 years in prison. All that might have moved to the rear view mirror but this was a sex offense. Special laws apply so he was put on the sex offense registry and faced severe restrictions on where he could live or even get temporary refuge from winter’s wrath. His death brought some slight changes to the laws. Nine years later Michigan’s registry is still going strong, the fourth biggest in the country with more than 43,000 listed and about 40 are added every week. Do registration laws improve public safety? A whole lot of evidence and research says no. Tom Rademacher wrote a great column for The Grand Rapids Press about Thomas Pauli’s life and death, and more–have a look. -Bill Dobbs, The Dobbs Wire firstname.lastname@example.org
The Grand Rapids Press (Grand Rapids, MI) | Jan. 29, 2009
Death of homeless sex offender in Grand Rapids poses questions
By Tom Rademacher
Press Photo/Rex Larsen
Don Lamse returned to the rear of his recycling shop on
South Division Avenue to show where he discovered on
Monday the lifeless body of 52 year-old Thomas Pauli.
So is this what it finally takes for us to hear the muffled cries of the homeless — an ex-con dead in the snow because it’s against the law for a sex offender to huddle up at either of two Grand Rapids missions?
Thomas Pauli didn’t choose to die alone in the cold.
He apparently froze to death because of a crime he committed nearly 20 years ago, and a law that’s dogged him ever since his release from prison.
In the days prior to the discovery of his body Monday morning at a recycling operation in the 600 block of South Division Avenue, he reportedly attempted to score a bed at either or both the Guiding Light Mission and Mel Trotter Ministries, just blocks away.
Our vision for a just future
1. Abolish pre-crime preventative detention laws
2. Free our friends and loved ones from dehumanizing labels
3. Realign our justice system with the values of restoration and reintegration
Just Future Project is a new initiative focused on challenging pre-crime preventative detention laws. We are a people-driven grassroots advocacy campaign dedicated to building a movement of community members demanding an end to indefinite detention regimes.
Why Is This Important?
Pre-crime preventative detention systems are a dangerous departure from the traditional values of our legal system.
We believe in justice, that persons who have caused harm may be held accountable for their actions. But justice also demands proportionality and due process, elements essential to distinguish justice from mere vengeance. The goal of any true system of justice must be restoration and re-integration, not the perpetual containment and incapacitation that have come to define the U.S. criminal legal system.
- What is civil commitment? Recent report raises visibility of this shadowy form of incarceration | Prison Policy Initiative on How many are held under “sex offender civil commitment” laws?
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