Monday, October 31, 2011

My editorial on Halloween Laws

Below is a brief editorial on Halloween Laws I wrote for a class. Since people stated it was good, I decided to share it here.

I was a child of the 1980s, and like most children, I went trick-or-treating. Outside my own little world, a new era of Predator Panic was forming. Missing children were plastered on the milk cartons in the fridge while local daycare centers were searched for underground tunnels, pentagrams, and literature from the Church of Satan. When we got home, mom and dad would confiscate our bags, and, much to our dismay, some choice candies were taken to “test for poison.”
Like the poison candy and the Satanic Ritual Abuse reports of the 1980s, our current laws targeting sex offenders are based upon urban legends. Much like the claims of high recidivism rates, as mentioned by Blathers, the myths of Halloween being a “sex offender smorgasbord” is based on fear rather than fact.
There are much more real threats to your children on Halloween night than the remote chance of a sex offender targeting your child on Halloween. Recent reports have discovered that traffic accidents with child victims are at their highest during Halloween. Should we ban all cars from driving because they pose a greater threat during Halloween than people on the public registry?
The problem with Halloween laws, as with many sex offender laws, are based upon wrongful assumptions and thus do not work as intended. Halloween laws were created to combat a virtually non-existent threat. After all, there is a definitive lack of reports of sex crimes committed by convicted sex offenders occurring on Halloween. So if in previous years there were no sex crimes committed by registrants, and I pass a new law to ban all registrants from participating on Halloween for this year and no sex crimes were committed by registrants this year, can I assume the laws had any effect on a non-existent problem? I think not.
It is time we as a society look at issues in our society from a rational standpoint and put stop scaring people with urban legends. If a sex crime is to occur on this night, it will be far more likely to occur within the child’s own home by a loved one not on the list. If you are worried about your child’s safety on Halloween night, then go with them, or take them to the many Halloween parties run by local churches or civic groups. And while sifting for those non-existent poisoned candies, try not to be as greedy with the choice candy as your parents were.

Happy Birthday to me! Thank God I don't live in certain places.

Today is my birthday! I turn 35 today. I don't really party like I did when I was younger, and Halloween seems mostly for the kids, so I'll likely stay home and watch TV or something. However, should I decide to go party, I'm grateful Cincinnati does not have Halloweenitis. Certain areas across the US have laws in place barring registrants from participating in a variety of Halloween-related activities. This would be a good time to remind everyone I recently updated my HALLOWEEN LAWS FACT GUIDE on my main website. If you haven't read it yet, check it out. HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Friday, October 28, 2011

The "SMART" Office needs to be sued for false advertising

When the Adam Walsh was passed into law in 2006, the so-called SMART Office was also created. I don't know why people are so fascinated with acronyms, but of all the acronyms, they chose one that has the least symbolism for a group dedicated to pimping a bad law, namely the Adam Walsh Act.
"SMART" stands for Sex-offender Monitoring, Apprehending, Registration, and Tracking office. So far, sex offender policies have been anything but smart. Maybe it is time we take a little look at this "SMART" Office and judge for yourself if this Office is as "SMART" as it claims to be.

“The SMART Office: Open for Business”

In a press release, The SMART office proudly proclaims it is "open for business." 

"In December 2006, the SMART Office officially opened for business when President Bush appointed Laura L. Rogers, a career prosecutor, as the Director. Ms. Rogers served as a Deputy District Attorney in San Diego, California for nine years, a Senior Attorney at the American Prosecutors Research Institute’s National Center for the Prosecution of Child Abuse for five years, the Director of the National Institute for Training Child Abuse Professionals for three years and an Adjunct Law Professor at George Mason School of Law for the past four years." This career description for Laura Rogers sounds awfully familiar. In fact, it reminds me of a certain loudmouth TV talking head who famously claimed she "never met a false rape claim" during the Duke Lacrosse case. But I digress.

The SMART Mission Statement:

To assure that convicted sex offenders are prohibited from preying on citizens through a system of appropriate restrictions, regulations and internment.

I love how they use the term "Internment." I immediately think of the Japanese Internment Camps of World War II. Could she have been alluding to the infamous Julia Tuttle Causeway debacle? Subsequent SMART Office Mission statements have removed the offensive word.

In 2009, Laura Rogers testified before the AWA Reauthorization Hearing in 2009. Lets hear her testimony for a minute:

Here we see Laura stumbling and fumbling and bumbling. It is clear she does not even understand how  the Adam Walsh Act even works. She was asked if a 19 1/2 year old and 15 year old having consensual sex would lead to being forced to register. Laura replied that it depends on how each state codes the law, or, as she put it, "there are a lot of issues that would have to be examined, depending on how its charged in a particular jurisdiction." Well, that defeats the purpose of the Adam Walsh Act, because the point of the law was making a "uniform standard" of sex offender laws across the US. She was asked again, and Laura fumbled more times than a butterfingered football player. Finally some speaker from Louisiana answered her question, 25 years on the registry for the scenario described.

It was not long before Laura Rogers stepped down and replaced with Linda Baldwin. Lets look at Linda Baldwin's bio:

Prior to joining the U.S. Department of Justice’s SMART Office, Ms. Baldwin served as a project manager for the New York State Unified Court System’s Office of Court Administration, where she planned and implemented ground-breaking problem-solving court initiatives on behalf of the Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for Court Operations and Planning. During her seven-year tenure, Ms. Baldwin implemented and expanded statewide initiatives for New York State’s sex offense, mental health and drug treatment courts.
As part of her work on the New York State Sex Offense Court Initiative, Ms. Baldwin organized training programs designed to teach and promote best practices for managing the high risk population of sex offenders. She also led an effort to create the Initiative’s Mission Statement and Key Principles, which were designed to guide and promote uniformity among these courts. Ms. Baldwin personally provided technical assistance to the first five sex offense courts in New York State.
Prior to joining the New York State Unified Court System, Ms. Baldwin spent eight years in private practice, concentrating in commercial litigation, real estate and zoning law. She began her legal career as a law clerk for New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Gary S. Stein after receiving her law degree from Columbia University School of Law in 1993.

So she began in the field of  COMMERCIAL litigation and zoning law. What does that has to do with sex offenders, aside from residency laws? I've always wondered how people with no prior experience are given such jobs in the first place, but then again, politicians are rarely experts in the laws they pass. A look at those initiatives raise red flags-- polygraphs and "stakeholder meetings" (what ,can you buy stock in sex offender laws?) are issues of concern. Ironically, Baldwin's home state of New York has decided to opt out of Adam Walsh Act compliance.

The SMART Office website is up and down more often than a yo-yo. Their job is to pimp the AWA so I'm not surprised to find a lack of info on the AWA's shortcomings and rulings against it are mentioned on the website. I'm sure more hilarity will ensue with the Adam Walsh Act Reauthorization Act of 2011.

There is nothing smart about the SMART Office. They should be sued for false advertising. Better yet, I have a more fitting acronym:


The STUPID Office. Now that sounds about right.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Stop the Semantics: There is NO SUCH THING as a "convicted pedophile"

Hey Media hounds, 

It is time to set the record straight. There is no such thing as a "convicted pedophile." It is inaccurate. it is just plain wrong. 

While some of you may think, "what semantic nonsense," the use of this term is derogatory and is on par with the "N" word. Allow me to clear the air.

First off, the term "pedophile" is a psychology term with distinct criteria.Below is the DSM-IV criteria for the diagnosis of pedophilia:

Diagnostic criteria for 302.2 Pedophilia
(cautionary statement)  

A. Over a period of at least 6 months, recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving sexual activity with a prepubescent child or children (generally age 13 years or younger). 
B. The person has acted on these urges, or the sexual urges or fantasies cause marked distress or interpersonal difficulty.
C. The person is at least age 16 years and at least 5 years older than the child or children in Criterion A. 

Note: Do not include an individual in late adolescence involved in an ongoing sexual relationship with a 12- or 13-year-old. 

In order to be a "convicted pedophile," simply having a clinical diagnosis of pedophilia would be outlawed. That simply is not the case. Granted, anyone who admits they are sexually attracted to children would likely be harassed by LE and neighbors and subject to scrutiny, but simply having a pedophilia diagnosis would not be enough to arrest someone. Thus, you cannot be arrested simply for being diagnosed with pedophilia.

There is a difference between a sex offender and a pedophile. You can be one without being the other, even if someone has been convicted for a sex crime involving a minor. Very few Registrants are clinically diagnosed with pedophilia. There is a difference between a situational offender and a fixated offender; a situational offender does not have a sexual attraction to children but committed a sex crime involving a minor due to other influences such as a messy divorce or depression; fixated offenders are those far more likely to have clinical sexual deviancy. There are those with a diagnosis of pedophilia who have never committed a sex crime (that means pedophiles are capable of controlling their urges). 

Stop assuming every registrant is a pedophile and misusing the term. You have done enough damage by misusing and abusing this term. Enough with the assumptions, the generalizations, and the downright lies. Quit trying to make progressively scary terms-- Pervert, Pedophiles, Predators, SVP, etc. 

How about a little truth in addressing this issue? Fanning the flames of blind hate and stupidity has not helped matters. But then again, the media is all about milking tragedy. 



PS: I stand by my words, and certain braid-dead vigilantes need a crash course in reading comprehension. The "common use" of the word does not make it proper use of the word. The "N word" I mentioned is a "common usage" word but I doubt anyone but racists would think the N word is proper or ethical. Most will agree using it to refer to a group of people is unethical and just plain wrong.