Saturday, June 21, 2014

Vigilante Violence is NOT "Justice"

Christine and Jeremy Moody -- Skinhead "Heroes"
How do we rehabilitate a sex offender? They cannot be fixed, what they can do, is convinced the Psychologists that they are ‘fixed’ and they are safe to be released into society. The only cure for child abusers and molesters is to have every member of their immediate family killed. These nefarious crimes and people should not be allowed to procreate. By destroying their immediate family members, you purify the blood line. This is the only way to ensure that they (the pervert or family) cannot ever hurt a child again. Liberals will think that these statements are immature and that I must be empty headed. How many people consider the children that were abused or molested? What about the mental destruction that this child has to live with for the rest of their lives? How these children will find it difficult to ever trust another person. How these children may possibly never be able to have children of their own, because they were raped so severe, that it damaged them permanently? I don't think my suggestion is immature, I think it's the only answer, and if you don't agree, then you two should be destroyed[i].” – Jeremy Moody, “Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.” Lulu Publishing, 2012. p.5

On Sunday, June 8, 2014, Jay Maynor[ii] of Cullman, Alabama shot and killed Raymond Earl Brooks, a registered citizen, who had served time for a sex crime against Maynor’s daughter 12 years ago[iii]. As with any story involving so-called “vigilante justice,” there are plenty of individuals coming out of the woodwork proclaiming this man a “hero.” The killer’s family has set up a Facebook page[iv] and a defense fund[v], and has raised $1500 in 10 days (the listed goal is $5000). A few of the comments from the fundraiser page are frightening and disturbing indeed:

There is no room in this world for pedophiles. They cannot be rehabilitated, and there is no cure. They should all be chucked off a boat and left for sharks.” – Holly Perkins

We have several sexual offenders living around us. Unless they start neutering them, I am with Mr. Maynor kind of justice.” – Kat Perry, who donated $5.00

As a survivor of abuse I support Mr. Maynor for seeking justice for his daughter. This demon should have never been allowed to walk the streets again, to have the chance to abuse another child. You are a hero to me Mr. Maynor.” – Jeanna Phillips, who donated $20.00

Jay Maynor's mugshot

A woman by the name of Kayla Maddux[vi], whose Facebook picture is a blue variation of the “Keep Calm” internet meme proclaiming “Keep Calm and Free Jaybird,” posted a comment to detractors at the Cullman Times, stating, “Dont [sic] go trying to tell facts when you dont know them.” When has the lack of facts stop the mass media from exploiting the tragedy for ratings? Even though the AP story didn’t mention the shooter’s name to “protect the victim’s identity,” they had no reservations posting the victim’s mug shot and proclaim him a sex offender[vii]. The lack of details didn’t stop Catherine Connors, an executive with the Walt Disney Company and “award winning blogger,” from writing a post on the Nancy Grace HLN site hinting that what Maynor did, although legally wrong, is understandable and she would be tempted to do the same thing. Connors states, “I know, if something like this happened to me, I might be tempted to do wrong, too[viii].” Michelle Lund from called the victim’s father a “pedo-sympathizer” and claimed that Cullman County Sheriff Mike Rainey cares more about sex offenders than “a father who had to watch her child suffer[ix].” Dr. Drew’s “Behavioral Bureau” also added their two cents[x]. HLN is notorious for focusing on stories such as this one.

The Dr. Drew show deserves a more in-depth critique. I have had the privilege of taking on Dr. Drew’s “Behavior Bureau” on two occasions in the past year. This is how the Bureau works – the show invites a panel of personalities to come on the show to discuss various topics, and not all of the panelists have explicit knowledge of the subject at hand. For this particular episode, the panelists were Leeann Tweeden, a TV sportscaster for poker and baseball’s Anaheim Angels, Anahita Sedaghatfar, a civil defense attorney and TV analyst, and Jason Ellis, a journeyman MMA fighter (who only fought two matches) who hosts a show on Sirius XM radio. Out of three individuals, only one has any degree of criminal justice experience, so the outcome of the show should come as no surprise.

Defense attorney Anahita Sedaghatfar stated she was against vigilante violence and that we can't be allowed to take the law into our own hands, but in the end, she still stated, “I would definitely defend [Maynor]. I think he has a strong case for mitigation in terms of sentencing.” As expected, the discussion simply went downhill from this point. Leeann Tweeden stares glaringly into the camera and proudly proclaims, “You do that to my child, I will shoot you in the head.” Jason Ellis gave the strangest statement of all. So, I don`t wanna -- I already said what I had to say, this -- when you bring up the extra -- I mean, I didn`t remember until I was 40 who the guy was that molested me. So, I didn`t know until I was about 26 that I`d been molested. I had to take a bunch of acid and they also recall it. Then, at 40 I find out who it is, because my body can`t even handle knowing who it is. You did that to that girl in that fashion, I don`t need to be related to the girl, I`ll kill him right now[xi].” It is interesting that Jason Ellis just stated that he “recalled” abuse that happened decades ago. (The False Memory Syndrome[xii] controversy continues, but that is a discussion for a different day.) The point is whether we want a person who took headshots for a living (like Ellis) or some “eye-candy” model who peddles her body for a living (like Weeden) to dictate the rules of society, especially not knowing the whole story behind the murders.

Returning to Kayla Maddux’s statement about knowing “all the facts,” supplemental articles have put together the facts. This is the complete story up until this point. The day of the murder, Jay Maynor got into an argument with his stepdaughter’s boyfriend (investigators say there was “bad blood” between the two men), and apparently, somewhere along the way, the boyfriend used the sexual abuse narrative to criticize Maynor, sending him into a rage. Maynor pulled out a gun and shot into the Berlin Quick Mart gas station where the boyfriend was sitting. Painter then went to the home of Raymond Earl Brooks and ambushed him, killing him in the home of his parents. The defense made the claim that a “catalyst” or “triggering event” that should considered mitigating factors for lowering his bail[xiii].

It is rather ironic that the term “trigger” was used Maynor’s defense since pulling a gun trigger landed Maynor in jail. The term “Trigger Warning” (or TW for short) is a relatively new buzzword. “In the area of mental health, a trigger is something which causes instant distress in a vulnerable person. If you know what can trigger a bad reaction, you can try to avoid those triggers in the same way that someone with an allergy might take steps to avoid dogs.” Trigger warnings first appeared on feminist websites to flag up stories of abuse[xiv]. This word is particularly dangerous because, in the words of Rhiannon Cosslett, triggers “smacked to me of victimhood.” Cosslett does not believe triggers hinder free speech, but states, “they do display an increasingly nannying approach to language that is being used to shut down discourse and to silence. Often, it is coupled with a sense of passive aggressive glee…I do not doubt that they are of enormous service to survivors with specific triggers likely to reoccur on feminist websites, but it has got to a point now where I feel women I have never met are trying to wrap me in cotton wool, and I detest that. PTSD can make you hypersensitive and hyper-aware…[xv]”Furthermore, trigger words perpetuates cultural victimhood; as one example, college campuses are considering placing trigger warnings on classic literature because people do not like feeling even slightly uncomfortable. As one RT reporter proclaimed, “Our kids WANT to be nannied. They WANT to be protected, and feel safe, and coddled[xvi].” And fear justifies some very atrocious behavior, like canonizing a man who shoots into a business establishment because he later killed a pariah of society.

When society canonizes a vigilante, society overlooks a lot of things; however, we should not forget Maynor’s actions have harmed many people, not just the murdered Registrant. Those victimized by Maynor’s actions found Maynor to be anything but heroic.

At Maynor’s bond hearing, “Cullman County District Attorney Wilson Blaylock called two witnesses, Jeremy Trimble and Bobby Weeks, who were present for the gas station shooting. Trimble testified he was present in the store at the time of the shooting and claimed one of the stray bullets came within 10 feet of hitting his child. ‘I was alarmed for my son’s safety and it made my heart stop,” he said. “He tried to shoot someone and shot another man.’Weeks was attending a child’s birthday party at the karaoke business located beside the gas station and said he heard a gun shot then looked outside to see Maynor with a gun drawn chasing another man. At that point, Weeks said he gathered the children together and took them inside for safety. ‘It sounded like he was yelling, ‘Come here you motherfucker,’ Weeks testified. ‘It scared me and the kids[xvii].’”

Jay Maynors shows the world how he feels about the laws of society
“Mike Hays, who cooks and operates a small barbecue restaurant inside Berlin Plaza Quick Stop, where the shooting occurred, said he came face-to-face with the shooter after the man opened fire outside and then entered the store looking for his intended victim, who wasn't hurt. ‘People here are calling him a hero for killing a child molester. I'm calling him a psychopathic lunatic for endangering peoples' lives, including mine,’ Hays said. After stopping his motorcycle at an intersection outside the store, the father fired once at a man who was standing beside an ice cooler, Hays said. The bullet entered an exterior wall of the store and chipped a window but no one was injured. Hays said he retrieved his own weapon and confronted [Maynor] near the cash register. ‘He had the gun down by his side. He was calm, as calm as you are standing there now. But he had that look in his eye,’ said Hays. ‘I have no problem with him shooting a child molester, just not 12 years later. If it was my daughter he would have died back in 2002[xviii].’”

“Brooks' father, Ralph Brooks, told WBRC-TV in Birmingham that his son did not deserve to die. He said Raymond Earl Brooks turned his life around after his conviction and lived a godly life that included being active in his church. Because his son's conviction happened so long ago, he said he couldn't be sure if the shooting was a form of revenge. ‘It would be unbelievable to hold animosity in your heart for 12 years,’ Brooks said[xix].

It should not be surprising with anyone that Jay Maynor had a criminal history. Maynor had made several court appearances over the years—once for DUI and three times for domestic violence (though the domestic violence charges were eventually dropped). It is laughable Maynor’s defense attorney brought these prior charges up in attempt to show the court that Maynor would come to court responsibly and should thus receive a lower bond. Thankfully bail was not reduced [xx].

This story has played out numerous times over the years. This brings me to the statement by Jeremy Moody at the beginning of this article. Moody’s proclamation could have been written just as easily by any anonymous commenter. But Moody’s proclamation was written in a self-written skinhead manifesto, alongside discussions on racial purity and ethnic cleansing. (Ironically, the head of Moody’s skinhead group, known as “Crew 41,” is a Registered Citizen[xxi].) Patrick Drum, who murdered two registrants in Washington State in 2012, had 47 criminal convictions over a 15 year period, including assault, drug, and burglary charges. One of his victims landed on the list for a consensual act with a teen when he was 17 years old. Drum and the Moody clan were unrepentant thugs with disgusting pasts. Had they killed anyone else, society would not have given any of them a second thought except to call for the heads of these men on a silver platter. But because their victims were Registered Citizens, people want to give murderers a free pass.

Even the Neo-Nazi skinhead Jeremy Moody had support from the public, as illustrated by this statement from a CNN commenter:

Kimberly269life – “In this case the dude had been convicted of a sex crime on a child!where is the good old killemall mindset we normally apply to pedophiles?What is your prob people? Pedophilia is a well known incurable condition-even castration doesn not cure this despicable condition in many men! He def needed killing.His wife on the other hand seems to have been collateral damage-but thats the price you pay for being connected to child molesters! Its true that many wives allow crimes against children-their own and others-by doing nothing and turning away.They are culpable.They are helping ! Nazis and other white supremists are really disgusting people-yes-but the pedophile is probably even lower ...frankly its a win/win from what I can see[xxii]” [Grammatical errors included]

The vigilante violence and the people who support them are definitive proof the registry, or any degree of public disclosure of Registered Citizens in the community, should be abolished. Until the registry is abolished, we will see this same story play out repeatedly in the coming years. Patt Morrison from the LA Times says, “Justice in a democracy cannot be some tit-for-tat clan vendetta, or determined by bribes or bias. It must be the dispassionate act of the people and the state, whose good order and laws have been violated. Vigilante justice erodes the authority and regard for a legal system that can’t be about vengeance or passion… And when an Alabama father or a California mother usurps that role, they are not heroes, because vengeance is not justice. And justice, not just someone’s child, becomes a victim too[xxiii].” 

The registry is a “catalyst” and a “trigger event” that enrages the community, and when a person is assaulted or murdered because of this registry, justice is perverted.

[ii] In terestingly enough, the AP did not publish the perpetrator’s name, stating “The Associated Press doesn't identify victims of sex crimes, and it isn't naming the man charged with murder to protect his daughter's identity.” Yet, they published the victim's name and picture and proclaimed him a sex offender. See Jay Reeves, “ALABAMA MAN CHARGED IN SLAYING GAINS SUPPORT.” AP, June 10, 2014.
[iii] Trent Moore, “Cullman man charged with murder in Berlin shooting.” Cullman Times, June 9, 2014.
[vi] Apparently Kayla the daughter of Jay Maynor, though she does not list him as her father on her Facebook page.
[viii] Catherine Commons, “Avenging a horrid crime: Right, but still wrong?” HLN, June 18, 2014.
[ix] Michelle Lund, “Jay Maynor, Hero Shoots Man Who Molested His Daughter.”, June 14, 2014.
[x] Dr. Drew staff, “Father charged in shooting death of daughter's molester.” HLN, June 12, 2014.
[xiii] Trent Moore, “Maynor’s attorney: ‘Trigger event’ caused shooting, seeking bail reduction.” June 12, 2014.
[xiv] “Trigger warnings: What do they do?” BBC, Feb. 24, 2014.
[xv] Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett, “Why I don’t agree with trigger warnings.” New Statesman, Jan. 29, 2013.
[xvi] “Our Kids Want to be Nannied. We’re Screwed.” The Resident (Russia Today), May 27, 2014.
[xvii] Trent Moore, “BREAKING: Bond reduction denied in Maynor murder case.” Cullman Times, June 19, 2014.
[xviii] Jay Reeves, “ALABAMA MAN CHARGED IN SLAYING GAINS SUPPORT.” AP, June 10, 2014.
[xix] Ibid.
[xx] Moore, “Breaking”
[xxi] “Killing Sex Offenders: The Apparent Hypocrisy of Crew 41.” Southern Poverty Law Center, July 29, 2013.
[xxiii] Patt Morrison, “Opinion Does an angry parent killing a child molester ever serve justice?” LA Times, June 17, 2014.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Defending the “Worst of the Worst”

A couple of months ago, I was invited to “Dr. Drew On Call” on HLN. This was my third HLN appearance in less than a year. The topic for discussion was whether a person deemed the “Pillowcase Rapist” should be released into the community after serving 18 years in civil confinement for a series of rapes. The idea, of course, was to find somebody willing to defend this person on TV so the rest of the “Behavior Bureau” can act shocked and appalled and stir up the emotions of those watching the program. Predictably, there was some outrage directed at me for defending this man. One person suggested I should've joined the chorus of condemnation, while a fellow activist claimed I set the movement back five years. I find these assumptions absurd, of course.

If anything, the sex offender reform movement seems to have a great fear of actually standing up for our rights at times. There is a bit of philosophical disagreement, even in a relatively small movement such as this. We have individuals who only fight for “R&Js” (for outsiders reading this, that is short for “Romeo and Juliet,” or teens on the list for having consensual sexual relations with one another), or some only for hands-off offenders, or those only considered low level registrants. It certainly is not easy to try to defend the rights of an individual who was convicted for raping 38 women. Obviously, a couple of comments directed towards me were based out of fear – at the least, a fear of losing what little reputation or credibility we have as a movement.

I recognize there is an erroneous belief by the general public that “sex offender advocacy” somehow implies that we condone what the individual did, or “advocating for the right to abuse people.” Or, if we allow this person to obtain any degree of comfort or stability, such as having a roof over his head or a job, then we condone his past behavior. I do not condone his past actions. However, the argument is not about condoning a man's past, but about giving this individual the opportunity to become a productive member of society once he has served a court mandated sentence, no more, no less. He was tried, convicted, and confined to civil commitment, and now the civil commitment center deems he is ready to be released. The system has spoken.

It is not easy to stand up for the constitutional rights of an individual of somebody as notorious as someone who has a nickname like the “Pillowcase Rapist.” However, as a person who believes that the U.S. Constitution should apply equally to all citizens, as it has been interpreted since the values were committed to paper. The rights that were enumerated by the Constitution were put in there for good reason. The individuals who founded this country felt persecuted and their individual freedoms violated by the British, so they instituted policies to ensure that the rights of the few were not trumped by the rights of many. Instead, a balance was to be achieved between individual freedoms than the needs of society as a whole. Obviously, the founding fathers had a number of injustices committed against them in their minds as they wrote the U.S. Constitution.

As I mentioned before, many outside our cause obviously believe that we are advocating the right to sexually abuse other individuals. That is untrue, obviously, but people cannot separate the past from the present. My personal belief is if an individual commits a crime, we have a system in place that punishes wrongdoers and that that individual should be punished in accordance with the law of the land. The system is far from perfect, and there are always reforms to be made in the system, but the system is what it is.

However you may feel about an individual sentence, what should remain constant is that when an individual serves a court mandated sentence, the individual who served time should be given a fair chance to become a productive member of society. That is not to say I demand an individual to invite a registered citizen into their home, cooking dinner, and let Junior set on his lap (though very few registered citizens would be a threat to Junior in the first place). What I advocate is that post-conviction “remedies” such as public shaming registries, residency restrictions, extortion fees, and related laws be abolished. Punishment should remain within the confines of the criminal justice system, whether the person being incarcerated or placed on community supervision.

What I desire to see is that the system continues to be reformed in a way that honors the Constitution passed by our original founding fathers, one that seeks a true balance between individual freedoms and public safety. We must pass laws based upon evidence, not raw emotion. Allowing the victim industry to call the shots and pass public policy on the basis of revenge motive has created a system by which we punish teenagers for taking naughty pictures of themselves or having consensual sexual relations with one another the same way we would treat an individual who was convicted of raping 38 adult women.

A more ideal system would allow an individual accused of a sex crime an adequate defense; because sex crimes are emotionally charged, we must make steps to ensure that individual rights are not trumped by emotional appeals and public opinion. The accused must be given the opportunity to mount it adequate defense without running afoul of laws that limit the ability to bring the credibility of the accuser into question. The media must be held accountable for their portrayals and sway over the public opinion of the case before it goes to trial. Potential jurors should be questioned on their views about sex offenses and those who commit them before they are allowed on a jury. I person should be convicted based upon evidence, not just on the basis of an unfounded allegation alone.

A more ideal system would couple punishments with rehabilitation. By rehabilitation, I mean evidence-based, heterogeneous programs that holding individual accountable while helping them to overcome their personal struggles. Programs that shame the individual and the simple act of warehousing individuals with lengthy prison sentences have proven to be ineffective methods of rehabilitating individuals serving time. If a person is incarcerated, then that person should be placed in the programs that will help an individual prepare for an offense free life in the outside world.

A more ideal system was established more transitional housing for individuals released from incarceration in order to assist them in successfully reintegrating to society. There are ready a number of successful programs across the country, including faith-based initiatives and groups like Circles of Supports and Accountability (CoSA), which have been proven to increase the likelihood that a person convicted of a sex crime will not re-offend. It is especially important during those important first three years of post-release to assist in individual in obtaining adequate housing, employment, and support to minimize the already low likelihood of recidivism. Public registries, residency restrictions, and other shaming tactics should be completely abolished, as they have been shown to disrupt the successful reintegration of individuals who have already served their sentences.

What does it really mean to be an advocate for the rights of registered citizens? It does not mean advocating against punishment of individuals who commit harm to others in a sexual manner. What it does mean is advocating for a fair and just system by which individuals who have committed crimes are punished justly, while maintaining the rights granted to us by the U.S. Constitution. We advocate a system in which decisions are based upon factual evidence, not appeals to revenge oriented emotion. It seems quite simple, because it is quite simple. The standard is universal, and we do not make exceptions. After all, the proclamation was made that "all men are created equal," even the “worst of the worst.”

Do I honestly believe on a personal level that the so-called “Pillowcase Rapist” will succeed? Probably not. The evidence is not in his favor, as repeat offenders are more likely to reoffend than single-offense registrants. He's going to be closely monitored, with the GPS monitor and a probation officer looking for any reason to send him back to prison. If anything, he may be back in prison within a couple of weeks for missing a curfew or not plugging in his GPS. People will feel better and move on to the next scare story of the day. There is also the possibility that this man keeps his nose clean and lives out the rest of his days of free man, much to the disdain of all those who have an opinion about him. We simply can't admit that we can't predict human behavior. I can be completely wrong about this man. What I do know is so long as this person is free I want him to be as productive a member of society as he can possibly be, because I know if he fails, no matter the reason, all of us on the registry pay the price.

Of course, making an entire group pay for the mistakes of a single individual is unconstitutional, but that is a rant for another day.

Friday, May 16, 2014

L'Oreal provides the makeup to hide the monster Lauren Book has become

Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you. – Friedrich Nietzsche

It is often said a picture is worth 1000 words. This particular picture speaks volumes. This picture was taken some time during the international embarrassment known as the Julia Tuttle Causeway sex offender colony, a.k.a. “Bookville.” Standing in the forefront is the notorious Ron Book, along with his daughter Lauren, standing defiantly. Behind them is a homeless camp created by the very policies these two worked to create, along with two people the Books forced to live under the bridge. Together, Ron and Lauren Book campaigned to create the most onerous residency restriction laws in the country in Dade County, forcing a number of registered citizens to live under a bridge. Years after the homeless camp was dismantled, homelessness remains a problem among a significant portion of Miami's registered citizens.

Much of the focus over the years has been on Ron Book, while for the most part his daughter Lauren has been pretty much relegated to the view of her of Ron’s lackey or puppet. After all, Ron was by far the more visible and vocal of the two. Ron is the powerful and corrupt South Florida lobbyist, while Lauren has always been invoked whenever Ron needed a victim to justify his policies. Ron is even the president of Lauren's Kids, a victim industry organization named for Lauren. We seemingly forget the role that Lauren has played in the debacle that was Bookville.

Lauren's annual “Walk in My Shoes” campaign turned into campaigns and even legislation designed to further erode the rights of the accused. In fact, the state of Florida passed the “Walk in Their Shoes Act,” which expanded the admissibility of collateral crime or “similar fact” evidence in cases where a person is charged with child molestation or a sexual offense. In other words, the Act allows hearsay evidence such as a prior allegation, even a false allegation, as evidence in abuse cases.

It was brought to my attention that L'Oreal Paris has an annual award event entitled, “Women of Worth,” and Lauren Book was given the award in December 2013. Considering the recent controversial actions that Lauren Book has taken, the L'Oreal company should reconsider giving an award to a person like Lauren Book. It is obvious that Lauren, in her quest to fight “monsters,” has become Nietzsche's proverbial monster herself.

Consider her more recent actions. Last month, during Lauren's annual Walk in My Shoes campaign, Lauren stopped to give her blessing to a pocket park that was built specifically to force registered citizens to move out of a community, driving untold numbers of registrants into homelessness. “I can't tell you how many times I ask parents, ‘Do you know who's living next door?' and they're afraid to look,’” Lauren said. “So, it's being educated within the law: know who's around you and use examples like (Bayberry Lakes), where you build a park to keep a vulnerable section of your community safer.” Lauren is now encouraging other communities to build pocket parks in order to force registered citizens out of communities. She wants to make the rest of Florida like Miami-Dade County.

More recently, Lauren put her support behind a controversial bill that would literally play scarlet letters on the driver's licenses of registered citizens. The state of Florida already marks the driver's licenses of registered citizens with the number of the statutes under which they were convicted. Under the new law, those the state considers “sexual predators” will have the term sexual predator written on their licenses in scarlet letters. It is interesting that Lauren Book invokes both the term scarlet letter and the TSA in the following statement:

 “This designation is a tool that we as community members – from law enforcement officers to TSA agents to teachers, daycare workers, doctors, nurses and everyone in between – can use to further protect the children and families of Florida… I believe a statutory reference is too benign. This is a scarlet letter that clearly states ‘WARNING! Keep this individual away from children!’ They are a clear and imminent danger, and parents and families have a right to know.”

If there is a true imminent danger to our society, it is individuals like Lauren Book using her position and the law to harm other individuals. Perhaps the most distressing of all is the fact that Florida passed a bill this year that gives victim industry advocates like Lauren a place on a committee that determines which registrants become candidates for civil commitments upon their release from prison.

I guess to some small degree we can reasonably expect a makeup company to do a very good job of screening candidates for some meaningless award created by their company. In our society, it seems the victim industry is rarely, if ever, scrutinized for the policies that they support or advocate. What Lauren Book advocates for is summarized by a picture. Lauren Book advocates for the suffering of human beings. Lauren Book is just as responsible for the Julia Tuttle Causeway sex offender colony as her father was. It was not just Ron we thought of when I and fellow members of SOSEN started calling the colony “Bookville” in 2009.

However, I also feel it is our responsibility as citizens to scrutinize those who use of emotional stories to justify sweeping laws that cause potential harm to thousands of citizens. It seems Lauren Book has failed to heed Nietzsche's warning, choosing to become a monster to fight those she considers monsters. Not even all the makeup produced by the L'Oreal Corporation could cover a Miami sized blemish on Florida's sex offender policy. Giving Lauren Book such an award is as much a faux pas as naming Hitler time magazine's Man of the year.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Grand Theft O.C. - The Ballad of Tony Rackauckas

I don't live in Orange County, but I've been there. I enjoyed a couple of trips to "The OC" after my mom passed away about 3 1/2 years ago. The beaches are nice and there is a lot to see and do. I even visited a couple of the parks while I was there on 2011. The year 2011 was a landmark year for me, as I had to rebuild my life after losing my mom and my fiancee the year before. Apparently, 2011 was a landmark year for Orange County DA Tony Rackauckas.

Tony Rackauckas has been the District Attorney for the OC since 1999. Apparently, no one has run against him in 12 years, and after rumors he wasn't even wanting to run for a fourth term, is now reportedly "eager" to run for a fifth term. And so far, it seems he'll be running unopposed again. I'd think after the debacle that has been his fourth term in office, he'd consider retirement. But I digress.

Around the time I was visiting Orange County, a debate was brewing over an idea to ban Registered Citizens from Orange County's parks (or, as the OC Register was calling it, "Pervs-in-Parks" bans). In the spring of 2011, as I was enjoying a trip to Orange County, Rackauckas and his sidekick, Susan Kang Schroeder, succeeded in persuading the county to pass a sex offender park ban. "We are setting up a safety zone by keeping parks and recreation zones safe from predators," Rackauckas said. It was good PR for the DA's office, and before long the "pervs-in-parks bans" were catching on all across the county.

It is important to note that the county ban only affected county parks, like the Orange County Zoo or Dana Point Harbor, a site I visited on one of my trips to the OC; thus, each municipality had to pass their own ordinance. The justification for pushing the ordinances was the belief that "the county ban could drive sex offenders into city parks that aren't covered by similar ordinances." This belief was classic fearmongering at its finest.

It seemed like an easy ride. After all, as Frank Zimring from UC Berkeley put it, "Who's going to lose votes being against child molestation?" Tony and Susan were touring the county (to be fair, Orange County is a huge county, about 3/4 the size of Rhode Island), singing the same ballad to woo the masses. But not everyone was responding to this tune.

The city of Irvine was reluctant to pass the ordinance. "Larry Agran noted Irvine is America's safest city, so by default it would already have America's safest parks. He feared the ban might occupy city cops who have proven they have a winning enforcement formula already. As part of the staff recommendation, Agran urged that a determination be made to whether pervs in Irvine parks is even a problem. Councilwoman Beth Krom, meanwhile, reportedly wondered whether the law would create a false sense of safety in parks." Irvine did eventually pass a ban, but it only applied to registrants with minor victims. Rackauckas was "befuddled" by the reluctance to pass an outright ban, citing the ordinance does not block "rapists, pornographers, and flashers from cruising" the parks.

In the summer of 2011, as I was taking my third trip to the OC, a terrible tragedy occurred that put a greater damper on Tony's political career. A homeless man named Kelly Thomas was beaten to death by a half-dozen Fullerton police officers. Normally, this is the kind of case that is easily swept under the rug, but in this instance, Kelly Thomas happened to be the son of a former OC sheriff's deputy. I imagine these cases are not easy for prosecutors, but Tony seemingly botched the case from the very beginning. Kelly Thomas's mother sued Rackauckas for hindering her right to examine public records relating to her son's death. Tony and his underling Susan had the choice to devote their efforts and resources into either jailing killer cops or to keep drunken mooners and teen sexters out of OC parks. The right choice should have been obvious.

While the Kelly Thomas case was making headlines across the US as an example of police brutality, Rackauckas and Schroeder continued to put their primary efforts into the sex offender park bans. Rackauckas expected someone who would be arrested under the park ban law would sue. It didn't take long for challenges to appear, and not just from a registrant arrested for visiting a park (seeing how there were so few arrests stemming from the ordinances, it should not come as a surprise).  A lawsuit was filed against four OC cities in federal court, and in Novermber 2012, the appellate division of the OC Superior Court ruled the law violates the state Constitution. The city of Lake Forest, one of the four cities in the lawsuit, quickly repealed the ordinance it had just passed a few months prior to the suit.

As Tony's pet project was being defeated in the courts, the efforts to punish the six Fullerton killer cops was floundeing. Despite the involvement of six officers in the arrest and beating of Kelly Thomas, only two cops, Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli, were formally charged for the crime. (A third cop, Joseph Wolfe, was also charged but the DA dropped the case.) The case was a high profile case, so Tony Rackauckas decided to try the case himself, something he apparently had not done since the OC was preparing for Y2K. There is only one sport I can think of where a person who has long since retired from active rotation is thrown back into the starting lineup, and that sport is the WWE. Pro wrestlers never truly retire, they come back on occasion to help get the younger talent over.

The prosecutor's office is not the WWE. Tony should have let someone who has tried an actual case since Clinton was in office take over. It seems Tony was simply going through the motions for the sake of putting on a show for those demanding Justice for Kelly Thomas. This case should have been a home run, a fastball right over the plate. But the mighty Tony struck out. Fullerton's killer cops were acquitted despite the overwhelming evidence of police brutality. "Tony's very factual," said Ron Thomas, Kelly's father. "He takes up a lot of time with his words. I thought he lost the jury several times because of long pauses," he said. The prosecution, Thomas said, failed to quickly address attempts by defense attorneys to portray his son as a volatile drug user... You have to at least counter what the defense is doing.... We didn't do that. We didn't bring in the positive...Tony didn't sell his case." How can someone botch such a sure-win? If you have read my rant up till this point  answer should be obvious.

Just a couple of days before the acquittal of the Fullerton killer cops was read, the California Court of Appeals upheld the lower court ruling that sex offender park bans were unconstitutional. In the midst of the Kelly Thomas murder case, Rackauckas still found the time to make a statement vowing to fight for his precious park bans all the way to the California Supreme Court. The California Supreme Court recently declined to hear the case, so the appeals court ruling stands as the highest ruling.

After Rackauckas botched the Kelly Thomas murder case, there were questions as to whether Tony's next song would be his swan song. But so far it seems Tony is still running largely opposed. If someone would oppose him, would Tony win? After all, he apparently has survived scandals in the past, such as an investigation by the OC grand jury, the firing (and lawsuit) over firing a cop investigating a wealthy contributor to Rackauckas's election campaign, the accusations of using his office to aid opponents of a political rival, flack over failing to address an assistant prosecutor's remarks comparing a Jew to Hitler, Rackauckas "misplacing" a loaded gun, and flak over aiding a corrupt political rival. However, if Tony was to win reelection, there is the chance OC could be stuck with someone even worse than Tony.

A concern among many behind the scenes at Orange County's law enforcement network is the possibility of Tony's faithful minion Susan Kang Schroeder possibly inheriting the DA position should Rackauckas decide to retire mid-term, as has been apparently rumored for years. Schroeder has been called "unprofessional" and even "satanic" by those who have dealt with her over the years. "If Susan Schroeder becomes the district attorney of Orange County, our criminal justice system will be in peril," said one veteran law enforcement official who asked to remain anonymous. "I'm serious."

I suppose Tony Rackauckas and his faithful sidekick will still push sex offender issues and try to find other ways of "protecting kids," especially now that an ex-Fullerton cop who got away with murder is teaching kids how to swing a bat. Maybe Tony can address the fact that another law he endorsed, Jessica's law, increased homelessness for registered citizens by about 2200% (that is, 22 times over) in the years since it passed.

I think the commentary from The Liberal OC is a fitting end to this ballad.

"We have to wonder if it isn’t time for Rackauckas to retire. His decision to take the lead in the prosecution of Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinell is but one example of the misguided actions of a 70 year-old-man trying to recapture the glory of his youth. His zeal in perusing a blanket ban of all sex offenders from parks, and gang injunctions that assign guilt by association to suspected gang members, only reinforces the view that Rackauckas has spent much of his recent years in office chasing headlines. We can only hope that Mr. Rackauckas doesn’t decide to throw a Hail Mary pass, and take on the prosecution of Carlos Bustamante in an attempt to reclaim his lost glory. But perhaps that is what Mr. Bustamante is praying for."

We can only hope that the Ballad of Tony Rackauckas comes to an end with Tony and Susan ousted from public office in disgrace.

Don't expect much more talk about the park bans, by the way. The OC Register is reporting that OC cities like Laguna Hills may reverse park bans under threat of litigation from Janice Bellucci/ California Reform Sex Offender Laws and the ACLU; the county has quit enforcing the park bans after the California Supreme Court denial.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Notice: Two new articles from Once Fallen now online

There are two new articles now available online at Once fallen:

Article 1: Travel Issues and the Registrant


Recidivism Chart, summarizing 33 American recidivism studies. Also, if you know of an American study that could be added to my chart that contains sexual rearrest and reconviction rates, let me know.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

R.I.P., Rev. C. David Hess (a.k.a., "The Parson")

I am saddened by the news that long-time reform activist, the Reverend David Hess of NY State, has passed away.

[Read one of Rev. Hess's final letters of advocacy at USA FAIR, written just days before his death]

I can't write a memorial as well for Rev. Hess as I did for Mary Duval; I only conversed with Rev. Hess a few times over the years. I met him on the old site way back in 2004 (ancient times as far as the sex offender reform movement is concerned) and later at SOHopeful, where he was always known as "The Parson." He is one of the few people I know who had been in this fight longer than me. He was far more level-headed than I (no surprise), and gave encouragement at many times to people. He was a pastor, first and foremost, after all. 

I remember, however, the help he gave me after my first taste of real activism, back in December 2006, during my battle with the city of Cincinnati over increasing residency restriction laws. He was one of the first to praise my efforts. Back then I did not have the knowledge and know-how to add videos to the internet (or an internet connection), so Rev. Hess uploaded the video for me. 

Rev. Hess was a quiet voice, but was among the many silent heroes in the battle against tough-on-crime legislation. We may not see everyone on the front lines of the cause, but that does not belittle the efforts of those like Rev. Hess, one of the early pioneers who helped mold and empower the reform movement in his own way. 

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN to Rev. Hess's sermon entitled "Lepers Among Us." He tells the story of a registrant who was turned away from a shelter because of his registry status during his sermon. 

Here is a brief bio of Hess from his Official Memorial page

David was born May 31, 1949 in Charleston, West Virginia. He was a graduate of Berea College and received a Master of Divinity and a Doctor of Ministry from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. While in Seminary he pastored the Mt. Herman Baptist Church in Kutawa, Kentucky. Subsequently, he served the Glenwood Baptist Church in New Jersey, The First Baptist Church in Hamilton, NY and for 16 years the West Henrietta Baptist Church in New York, the longest pastorate in this nearly 200 year old congregation. Much loved and respected by his congregation and a wide circle of friends and acquaintances. He was active in the work of the American Baptist Churches of Rochester and Genesee Region and in many other local and statewide organizations. David served as the Chaplain of the West Henrietta Fire Department and the Henrietta Fire District. His love of music was widely recognized both within his congregation and also by his active role in the Eastman Rochester Chorus.

Home:Scottsville/West Henrietta, NY
Death Date:March 07, 2014
Birth Date:May 31, 1949

Birthplace:Charleston, West Virginia

The BULLETIN from Rev. Hess's church, West Henrietta Baptist Church:

Our beloved Pastor David Hess succumbed to lung cancer on March 7th 2014 while a patient at the Wilmot Cancer Center of Strong Memorial Hospital.

David Hess has been the pastor of our church since April, 1998. He is a native West Virginian and  a graduate of Berea College. He has  received Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary ("When," he says, "it was a good seminary.")

He has served pastorates in Hamilton, NY; Glenwood, NJ; Kuttawa, KY.; and Carrolton, KY. When in college he served as a student summer missionary to Trinidad.

Rev. Hess also ran a website called "SO Hopeful of NY." This was Rev. Hess's mission as founder of SOHopeful NY. Below was the mission statement from SOHopeful NY. Back during those early days of the moment, there were not very many organizations fighting against tough-on-crime legislation. Now, we have a number of organizations like SOSEN, RSOL, WAR, USA Fair, and my own website to help continue the fight that the good Reverend believed in:

Our positions:

1. We want effective laws that prevent sex crimes against children and others.

2. We recognize that effective laws are based on facts, not mythology and false assumptions. Most sex offender laws are enacted to prevent the victimization of children and adults by former offenders and strangers. Such crimes are much more likely to be committed by other individuals. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 93% of children who are victims of sexual abuse are victimized by family members or acquaintances. 95% of those arrested for sex crimes in New York State have not previously been convicted of a sex offense and thus  are not listed on any registry. Contrary to mythology, most sex offenders do not repeat their crimes. According to a study by NY State Division of Criminal Justice Services, just 8% of registered sex offenders in New York State are arrested for a new sex offense within 8 years of the date of their initial registration. The sex offender registry must not over promise. It is powerless to prevent the vast majority of sex crimes which are committed in New York State. It may even serve to cloak the true danger from the public. (More on sex offender recidivism in New York State).

3. We recommend that New York return to the earlier version of its law where only the most dangerous offenders were posted on the Internet registry, and that low risk, non-contact, non-violent, one time offenders be dropped from the registry after ten years.  Public sex offender registries are becoming so large that the public cannot identify those who truly present a continuing danger. Furthermore, we recommend that a path be opened up for those deemed "higher risk" offenders to earn their way off the registry. (New York State reports that 89% of even those "high risk" offenders  (Level 3) are not arrested for a new sex crime within 8 years of their date of first registration.

 4. We are against laws that increase the danger to the public. For example, it is well known in the field of corrections that recidivism is less likely when former offenders have stable employment, stable housing, and stable family and social support. Many sex offender laws actually increase the danger by making it more difficult for former offenders to find stable employment and housing. Many sex offender laws also have a significant negative impact on former offenders’ families, especially their children. It is a fact that many former offenders can become productive, law abiding, tax paying members of their communities. Specifically, we urge that public registries not include information about former offenders’ employers and that no residency laws be enacted for those no longer on probation or parole. (More on residency laws).

5. We support the recommendations on "Effective Sex Offender Management in New York State” found in the NY Senate Crime, Crime Victims, and Corrections Committee’s 2010 Annual Report.

6. In particular, we urge that New York State not implement the Adam Walsh Act (AWA). It is not the case that the federal government always knows better than the states. AWA is much more expensive and less effective than what New York presently has.  It is with good reason that only 4 states have implemented AWA to this point. Many states rightly object to the cost of AWA. For example, the Texas Legislative Budget Board, an independent review agency for the state's legislature, published its legislative biennium-based report. Its summary offers this fiscal impact information from Texas:

"Both state and federal laws play a role in establishing sex offender registration and notification requirements. In 2006, the federal government passed the Adam Walsh Act establishing comprehensive sex offender registration and notification requirements that may be costly for states to implement. Early estimates indicate it could cost Texas $14 million a year to comply with the Act. The penalty for non-compliance in fiscal year 2010 would have been $2.2 million."

 Ohio was the first state to implement AWA. In addition to the cost of implementing AWA, the state also had to wage a costly legal battle in defense of the law. The ultimate result was that the Ohio Supreme Court found Ohio’s law to be unconstitutional.  (Update: NY has notified the U.S. Justice Dept. that NY will not comply with the Adam Walsh Act).

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Even in small scale operations, law enforcement loves to inflate numbers

I love how Law Enforcement loves to inflate numbers to make it sound like they are doing more than they are actually doing, or that they need to justify the vast waste of our resources on our Predator Panic obsession.

One of the newest prevailing myths is that the Super Bowl is now a yearly magnet for roughly 100,000 "sex traffickers," or what we used to like to refer to as "prostitution." You see, we no longer refer to prostitutes as prostitutes, but "sex trafficking victims." Now granted, a small number of Americans are forced into doing really bad things, like forced prostitution. Many more do so for reasons such as supporting a habit or because it is fast and easy money. That 100,000 number is ridiculous, by the way, since the biggest Super Bowl in history had about 105,000 or so official attendees. That would be about one prostitute for damn near every Super Bowl attendee. But I digress.

I wanted to point out a couple of glaring issues and nagging questions with this "news article" regarding "sex trafficking" arrests from this year's Super Bowl. Now, I must address a caveat. I have already stated that forced sexual slavery is a bad thing. I'm merely taking note of the over-inflated stats surrounding this newest myth.

16 Teens Rescued From Sex Trafficking in Super Bowl Sting
by Rachael Denhollander | Washington, DC | | 2/7/14 11:34 AM

It’s the ugly side of the Super Bowl – the reality that America’s most popular sporting event is also likely America’s biggest day for sexual slavery. The day that sells the most tickets and the most coveted ad spaces is also the day that results in the most sales of little girls and women, at prices inflated to match the expense of the event. In a cruel outplay of the economic reality of “supply and demand,” it is not only local pimps who make a big profit – women and girls from all over the country are often brought in to the destination city to ensure that travelers for the big game have enough “side entertainment” available.

So now the "Super Bowl" is the "biggest day" for "sexual slavery." I find that hard to believe, given the headline stated a whopping 16 teens were "rescued." Compared to other large scale operations the police love to brag about, this seems like a relatively small number of fish for such a wide net.

As awareness of this evil phenomenon has grown, law enforcement officials and private organizations have been stepping up efforts to bring the activity to a halt, with Sunday’s event seeing perhaps the most intense and organized movement to date. In the six months leading up to the Super Bowl, the FBI partnered with both state and local law enforcement officials, more than 50 agencies in all, to create a coordinated effort not only in New Jersey, but throughout other states where pimps and their victims may be traveling from or through to supply the host city with enough “workers” to meet the demands of the big day.

Take note. OVER FIFTY law enforcement agencies took part in this massive operation in New Jersey, where this year's Super Bowl was played, as well as states other states where prostitutes and their handlers may be traveling from. Which states, I wonder? Note the six months of planning for this.

The operation included training hotel staff and other employees working in venues focused on hospitality or travel assistance to recognize warning signs of human trafficking and respond appropriately. The coordinated effort is the result of the FBI’s  “Innocence Lost” initiative, a program established in 2003 in conjunction with the Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, for the purpose of combating the trafficking and sale of minors.

I'd love to know what the NCMEC actually does besides make millions for John Walsh and Ernie Allen. I guess now is the time to PROVIDE THE LINK to the "Innocence Lost." So in 10 years, they are averaging about "270 rescues" annually. It is interesting these are very small numbers given the constant claims of "100,000 to 300,000 are children are sex slaves in the US." Also, how much does this operation cost taxpayers, given the number of agencies involved?

It is an effort that made a critical impact for dozens of women and children this weekend, as the FBI announced yesterday that it rescued more than 50 women forced into prostitution, as well as 16 minors being sold into sexual slavery. Six of the minors were recovered in New Jersey, while the others were recovered in surrounding states from pimps known to traffic victims across state lines, some of whom claimed to have traveled specifically to provide sexual services during Super Bowl events. In addition, 45 pimps were arrested in the coordinated operation.

This is where the story gets interesting. So actually, only six minors were actually recovered in NJ at this time? Also, were 50+ women actually "forced" into prostitution? Or were some smart enough to play along with that assumption? Of course, where are the other 99,934 sex trafficking victims being sold at the Super Bowl? Are they in hiding?

Of the children recovered, some were as young as 13, and none older than 17. Many were runaways who had been lured by pimps seeking desperate children, while some others were children who had been reported missing by their families, and still others were foreign nationals.

Interesting how the ages are mentioned here. "No one older than 17." That's because anyone ages 18+ aren't considered minors. Also, it is hard to justify using the word "many" when referring to 16 people.

But the biggest disconnect is found not on this article, but the "Innocence Lost project" page. Notice the look of the "child" in the graphic:

To me, the child in the graphic looks like a child, not a teenager. This graphic is a powerful propaganda tool. It implies a literal sale of children, not teenagers, some of whom apparently weren't forced into the sex trade. Even the writer of this article reluctantly mentions that some were teens "reported missing" or "foreign nationals." It is interesting because they are distinct categories from the category of those "lured by pimps." I guess it is easier to allow people to assume force when indeed some chose this profession. I'm not saying it is right for teens to chose the sex trade, I'm merely saying lets talk about the subject honestly, and cut out the propaganda.

It will be a long road for the women and children recovered, however. Brainwashing, brutal beatings, and threats of harm to family members are the normal living environment for victims of human trafficking, making it difficult to truly escape and heal. Many victims return to their captors out of fear or guilt, or as a result of Stockholm Syndrome.

Clemmie Greenlee, a victim of human trafficking who has dedicated her life to reaching other women in her situation, explains, “There’s no such thing as we want to go back to these guys, we do not feel that no one — not even the law — can protect us, and we do not want to die. … You can say you’re going to save us, you can say we don’t have to worry about the pimps no more. We already know what power they have shown us. So either you come back to them, or you find out two days later they either got your grandmother or they just broke your little baby’s arm.” In some ways, getting the women out is the easy part – helping them rebuild shattered lives is a much longer, much more difficult process.

Not all prostitutes have "pimps." Some are really bad people. However, this part of the article is a classical appeal to emotion. The implication is that ALL sex trade workers are this way. It may be more common in "street level" prostitution, but not so much with the "escort" level. Many women work independently, or their lovers act as protectors. Granted, drug abuse tends to be a primary motivator for prostitution for many people, and drugs make people do crazy things. It can also be like what is described here, but it isn't universal.


Yet every effort must begin somewhere.  Perhaps this weekend, for nearly 70 women and children, the first steps to healing and freedom have begun.

I'm not sure what the pro-life argument has to do with the article.

For those who suspect trafficking, contact your local police or the Department of Homeland Security at 1.866.347.2423. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center also staffs a toll-free 24-hour hotline at 888-373-7888.

I guess Homeland Security needs a job since they don't do anything else but sit around and look menacing.

It is interesting to note the semantics employed in this newest awareness campaign, with a very sexist connotation. Prostitutes are almost universally portrayed as "victims" of the sex trade, while "pimps" and, almost as frequently, "Johns" are almost universally portrayed as abusive men who are forcing women into sex. Some do, yes. But not all women are victims. Many choose the profession willingly. Not all men are abusive.

It is common to feel the need to portray the worst case scenarios to raise awareness of a serious but very rare issue. Unfortunately the rhetoric clouds truth and rational approaches to the issue at hand. Sex trafficking is the next great Predator Panic, and it can have a negative influence over already bad sex offender laws.