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July 10, 2012

"Are Our Sex Crime Laws So Radical They Deter Reporting?"

The provocative question in the title of this post comes from Professor Dan Filler via this post at The Faculty Lounge, which in turn links to this extended op-ed also by Dan Filler appearing in today's Philadelphia Inquirer.  The op-ed carries the headline "Penn State scandal shows sex-abuse laws can backfire," and here are excerpts:

[T]here is another lesson to be learned from this horrible [Sandusky] story, and it's time we acknowledged it.  Penn State's administrators might have buried the charges against Sandusky partly because our national anxiety about sexual abuse has resulted in a lattice of laws so toxic that people are afraid to report it.  Although Penn State officials may have wanted Sandusky to stop, they also may have feared the overwhelming consequences of reporting the crime....

Over the past two decades, advocates, the media, and politicians have stoked public fears about sexual abuse.  The resulting panic has had serious consequences.  It has subjected all sexual offenders to greater stigma and, more importantly, has led to a complex array of laws that dramatically increase the costs of conviction even for less serious sexual offenses.  In some states, a low-grade sex offender faces greater repercussions than a murderer.

Prison is just the start. Every state also imposes the public shame of community notification.  Most restrict where such offenders can live — in some cases so severely that homelessness becomes the only viable option for offenders.  Some states are even incarcerating people beyond their regular sentences because they are expected to commit sex crimes in the future.

There is little evidence that all these measures reduce the incidence of sex crimes one whit.  They have, however, dramatically raised the stakes of reporting and charging such crimes.

There's no doubt that Penn State administrators were trying to protect the university and its football program.  But they were also trying to protect Sandusky and themselves from the tsunami that would follow.  I take [former Former Penn State president Graham] Spanier at his alleged word that he feared an inhumane result.  He isn't alone: Some recent research suggests that some prosecutors shape their charging and plea-bargaining decisions to moderate the effects of current laws.

And then there are the victims. If administrators and prosecutors are concerned about inhumane responses to sex offenses, think about the most common kind of victims: those who are abused by relatives.  There is already plenty of pressure on children to keep quiet about abuse within families; public shaming and residential restrictions compound the consequences, which in many ways may end up hurting victims by dissuading them from reporting abuse and excluding them from communities when an offending family member is released.

There is no question that society needs strong laws prohibiting and punishing sexual abuse.  But those laws must be well-reasoned and tailored to be both just and effective.

Over the past 20 years, society has approached sex crimes with unbridled passion and anger.  This emotional search for justice is entirely appropriate in particular cases; that is one purpose of sentencing.  But when the same intense feelings become an engine for policy-making, they may undermine the crafting of effective laws.

The goal, after all, is to prevent Jerry Sandusky and others like him from victimizing children, and that won't happen if we deter people from reporting their crimes.  When laws become so radical that they work against the protection of victims, they are inherently inhumane.

July 10, 2012 at 08:46 AM | Permalink

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|| [T]here is another lesson to be learned from this horrible [Sandusky] story, and it's time we acknowledged it. Penn State's administrators might have buried the charges against Sandusky partly because our national anxiety about sexual abuse has resulted in a lattice of laws so toxic that people are afraid to report it. ||

No, if Joe Paterno had gotten out in front of this, accusers considered seriously and the obvious and sole perpetrator apprehended swiftly, blame would have rested exclusively on the molester.

Posted by: Adamakis | Jul 10, 2012 9:05:43 AM

Many of the factors that the Professor lists which deter reporting are present whether the penalty for sexual abuse of a child would be a slap on the wrist or life without parole.

Once it is understood that there are extreme pressures against children reporting abuse against a family member - and that in an institutional setting, there will be a strong desire to cover up given the fact that a sexual abusae scandal is guaranteed bad publicity - the issue really becomes one of deterrence. If a potential sexual abuser knows that his odds of getting away with molesting the little girl next door are relatively high the penalty must also be sufficiently high that he conclude that the potential risk is too great.

Because I do not think there is any legitimate evidence that lowering the penalties for childhood sexual abuse would increase reporting - indeed, many of the cases which have been reported years later were cases where the abuse took place years before - this especially appears to be severe in the cases where boys were abused (which is an especially acute social problem in that boys who are sexually abused as children often grow up to become abusers themselves). The Catholic Church abuses took place largely before the penalties were increased - Sandusky's abuse also took place largely before the penalties against childhood sexual abuse was raised. In fact, I believe that the evidence is actually against the Professor in that there was tons of unreported abuse before the penalties were raised.

Thus, I think that the professor is completely wrong here and what he is advocating would not lead to additiona lreporting and ultimately lead to more children being sexually abused because the deterrence factor would be lowered. You can't have a crime which is known to be dramatically underreported also being relatively lightly punished.

Erika :)

Posted by: Erika | Jul 10, 2012 9:32:48 AM

cover up, bad publicity,
The Catholic Church,
odds of getting away with it...

The penalty must also be sufficiently high

*The deterrence factor*

Erika, truer words have not been spoken.

Posted by: Adamakis | Jul 10, 2012 9:55:12 AM

I’ve seen some strange justifications for the failure to act. This one takes the cake.

The motives of the Penn State officials may have been complex. But protecting the image of their university, their football program, and their head coach, seem to have been the main ones.

If they were trying to ensure that Sandusky was treated humanely, what exactly did they do about it? They did precisely nothing; his reign of terror against innocent children continued unabated. All they did (eventually) was to ban him from the Penn State locker room, thus ensuring only that if he continued his crime spree, it would happen elsewhere.

To the extent they were motivated to protect Sandusky from laws they perceived as excessively harsh, where were their sympathies for the children he continued to abuse? Every incident that took place after they knew about his actions, and yet did nothing, is on their heads.

I do agree with the professor that some of the laws and punishments are excessive, and have no real correlation with preventing crime. But that is no excuse for allowing Sandusky to remain free to target helpless children.

And what did they gain, in the end? The consequences for Sandusky, for themselves, and for the university, were far worse than if they had just stepped forward and done the right thing, from the start.

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | Jul 10, 2012 10:58:16 AM

I agree that harsh sanctions can sometimes dissuade the reporting of the offenses they're designed to deter. Indeed, in an earlier article, I show how increasing the nominal sanction for a given offense could reduce the expected sanction, not only by discouraging victims (and others in the know) from reporting such crimes, but also by discouraging police and prosecutors from filing charges, witnesses from testifying honestly, jurors from convicting, etc. In the article, http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=605422, I explore several real-world examples where this dynamic seems to arise -- deportation; denial of firearms privileges; denial of public benefits, and SORNLs, among others.

Still, I disagree with Dan's analysis of the Sandusky case and its implications for sex abuse reporting more generally. First, I don't think many people -- victims, witnesses, police, prosecutors, jurors -- would deem the punishment for sex abuse as disproportionate or overly harsh. Sex abuse is, after all, a horrendous crime. Now it's true that friends and family members of perpetrators usually won't want them to prison for any length of time -- but that's true of any offense, not just sex abuse. Second, even if formal legal sanctions for sex abuse were reduced, it's not clear that step alone would encourage more reporting. The reason is that offenders would still be subject to tough social sanctions (shame, ostracism, etc.). And it seems likely these sanctions alone could be enough to discourage reporting (if that indeed happens), regardless of how we set the formal legal sanctions.

FWIW, like Marc, I think the Penn State officials made a terrible decision, and they probably did so for selfish reasons -- e.g., to avoid emroiling the University in a salacious story (clearly, this backfired). I'm not convinced they did it because they thought Sandusky would be unfairly punished for his crimes -- i.e., that the laws were too toxic.

Posted by: Rob Mikos | Jul 10, 2012 11:46:10 AM

I have been listed on a criminal government's SEX OFFENDER Registry for well over a decade. From what I have seen first hand, I know the Registries, and the adjunct idiotic laws that they have enabled and promoted, are counterproductive, immoral, anti-factual, un-American, diversionary, often idiotic, and often illegal. I believe that the governments that have created and run the Registries are, by and large, criminal regimes. The people who zealously support them are terrorists who cannot leave other people alone.

I can't imagine I would ever report any crime to any U.S. government. They have no moral basis to judge anyone. I surely will never help any of their agents with anything. I won't be a witness to anything. I've never seen anything and never will.

F the Registry Terrorists and their criminal regimes.

Posted by: FRegistryTerrorists | Jul 10, 2012 1:35:54 PM

"F the Registry Terrorists and their criminal regimes."

And may the "Registry Terrorists" and "criminal regimes" forever keep your name front and center on the registry.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Jul 10, 2012 2:44:27 PM

With the obvious exception, I agree with the posts above. The most important points are (1) the evidence that harsh penalties deter reporting of these crimes seems very skimpy, and such of it as there is, unpersuasive; and (2) as Marc points out, I mean, good grief, what's the alternative to reporting them? Allowing them to continue?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 10, 2012 2:54:26 PM

i have the agree the only thing the univeristiy was protecting was ITSELF!

but i also agree that america as a whole has went nuts with law after law after law each one more restrictive than the one before it!

Posted by: rodsmith | Jul 10, 2012 2:59:03 PM

rodsmith --

Be that as it may, I'm sure you'd agree that you can't know about behavior like Sandusky's and just take a pass. You simply must report it. Getting humane treatment for the child victim (namely, getting this stuff to stop) vastly outweighs humane treatment for the victimizer, even if one assumes that penalties are so harsh as to qualify as "inhumane."

Indeed, I have the strong feeling that if you saw something like what Sandusky was doing going on, reporting it would be the LEAST of the things you'd do.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 10, 2012 3:14:46 PM

TarlsQtr (Jul 10, 2012 2:44:27 PM) said "And may the 'Registry Terrorists' and 'criminal regimes' forever keep your name front and center on the registry."

Of course. They are too stupid not to.

But you just don't learn, do you? What is your excuse? Too stupid or something else?

I've said it a hundred times before - at least with respect to me, this is a war that the criminal governments and their supporters lost many years ago. They are just too stupid to know it and/or too arrogant to care. Now they are only adding to their casualties.

And why would I not want it that way? The Registries made me rich and gave me a great life. No thieving terrorists are going to take that from me. But I will do what I considerably can to lower the quality of their lives. And if this country continues its slide into its cesspool, I will take my spoils and retire in a better country.

Tonight, just for you and people like you, I will be hanging out with a bunch of people who have no idea I am listed on a nanny big government Registry and never will. But my neighbors know it, right? The exact people that I never interact with. :-)

Posted by: FRegistryTerrorists | Jul 10, 2012 4:01:53 PM

No, Bill, a smart person would not report it. A smart person would get it to stop, get help for the victim, and get help for the victimizer. If the government weren't so immoral and could be trusted to handle everything intelligently, then it could be reported. But they've proved the opposite. Government doesn't help and isn't the answer to everything.

Posted by: FRegistryTerrorists | Jul 10, 2012 4:06:45 PM

@FRegistryTerrorists: Your suggestion is not what Penn State officials did. They just talked it over, and in the end, did nothing.

I can somewhat understand your anger with sex offender registration laws that are excessively severe, but at least the government put Sandusky in a place where he will never harm a child again. Perhaps another solution would have been better, but incapacitating him was Job One, and only the government succeeded at it.

The sentences for white collar offenders and child porn possession are about 10 times too heavy, but the guy who physically assaults multiple children isn’t the best advertisement for leniency.

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | Jul 10, 2012 4:20:37 PM

As always, excellent post. Thanks for being willing to publish the "less interesting" aspects of sexual abuse - want to guess how many op-eds I submitted to local and PA papers on the very same subject, but were rejected in favor of pieces that skirt around the issue? A LOT. The child safety zombies sadly have no idea hoiw many children they are harming in the meantime, in more ways than one. www.iloveasexoffender.blogspot.com

Posted by: Shana Rowan | Jul 10, 2012 8:16:15 PM

"Over the past 20 years, society has approached sex crimes with unbridled passion and anger. This emotional search for justice is entirely appropriate in particular cases; that is one purpose of sentencing. But when the same intense feelings become an engine for policy-making, they may undermine the crafting of effective laws."

Pretty much. Laws named after a tragic victim, while politically expedient, rarely make good policy. That sort of thing should be left to sentencing, as the author points out.

I would also say it makes pretty good intuitive sense that harsher penalties deter reporting. I am familiar with at least a couple cases where that played a role, though it's like we'll never really know how many cases were never brought forward out of fear of getting the family run through the system because, as a rule, they were kept under wraps. I bet it'd be more than a few, especially when the majority of contact sexual offenders are known to the victim's family and a good deal of those are actually relatives. It certainly presents a conflict.

There is a good deal of evidence that these laws don't do much in the way of public protection, that it's really mostly about shaming and retribution. Also, IMO, it's about scapegoating, convenient politics, and feeling secure vs being secure. All of which combine to make a bet on harsher penalties on sex offenders a safe political move, but at a certain point IMO that actually comes at a cost to public safety and reduction of sexual violence.

Posted by: Guy | Jul 10, 2012 10:14:36 PM

Headed your way from Delaware feminist lawyer and its male running dog.

1) All people over 18 are mandated reporters of child abuse, not just professionals. Fine for first offense (failure to report) is $10,000, for the second, $50,000. That means all adult neighbors, all passer-bys at the Walmart, all adult family members, including spouses.

2) Almost all corporal punishment is outlawed.

3) Derogatory remarks and criticism of child behavior is now labeled child emotional abuse. Reportable by law.

4) OK. So ignore bad behavior to avoid rewarding it with attention. Ignoring is now called child emotional neglect. Reportable by law.

5) Naturally, child abuse is really a description of American South child rearing methods, and who practices those, even in the North? Black folks. And, many more black kids are removed, screaming, from their homes.

Street level child welfare workers are livid. They are carrying a dozen kids with broken bones (broken by the lawyer client, the career violent criminal), starvation, living in uninhabitable places. Now they must investigate hundreds of reports of derogatory remarks and ignoring.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 10, 2012 10:18:52 PM

Few want to report because it is easy to get sucked into the blame game. YOU can easily be accused just as well. If the Sandusky trial taught us anything, it is that you CAN be convicted without any evidence.

Posted by: oncefallendotcom | Jul 10, 2012 11:25:35 PM

This is the witch hunt against the productive male, with the overwhelming majority of allegations being false, especially in any dispute with a feminist lawyer seeking to destroy the productive male.

All penalties should be symmetrical. However, harsh they get, they should be the same for the false reporting of abuse. The penalty should be shared by the vile feminist lawyer. If a child makes a false allegation of rape, and the mandatory sentence would have been 20 years, the child should be imprisoned for 20 years.

The false allegation, combined with all out lawyer war on the productive male, total judge bias against males, makes this field devoid of credibility. Allegations of ritual sex child abuse, replete with false confessions, have stripped the feminist lawyer of any moral standing. All allegations should be verified with objective physical evidence.

All prosecutors should lose their tort immunities and be made to pay all costs, including reputational costs, when they falsely persecute the productive male target of the lawyer witch hunter.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 10, 2012 11:42:50 PM

As to the Church. It is a competitor for moral authority with the vile feminist lawyer and its male running dogs. Therefore it must be defunded. The church had no more pedophiles than any other number of people. The church should not be held accountable if a priest robbed a bank, because it is not part of church function. The child abuse by some priests is no more the fault of the hapless church than any other crime would be.

The Church is far more effective at inculcating moral beliefs and behavior than the vile feminist lawyer. Therefore it must be brought down by ruinous litigation. Ironic. The Church taught the vile feminist lawyer the methods of the Inquisition, and is now being subjected to them.

The Inquisition 1.0 ended only when French patriots beheaded thousands of high church officials. The same should be done with the lawyer hierarchy.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 10, 2012 11:50:01 PM

Regardless of whether or not sex offense punishment is draconian, I sincerely doubt that PSU would have reported Sandusky if only the punishment was less severe. Although I have no first-hand knowledge, I think PSU was merely looking out for their own self interests.

Posted by: Katie | Jul 11, 2012 12:40:32 AM

"rodsmith --

Be that as it may, I'm sure you'd agree that you can't know about behavior like Sandusky's and just take a pass. You simply must report it. Getting humane treatment for the child victim (namely, getting this stuff to stop) vastly outweighs humane treatment for the victimizer, even if one assumes that penalties are so harsh as to qualify as "inhumane."

Indeed, I have the strong feeling that if you saw something like what Sandusky was doing going on, reporting it would be the LEAST of the things you'd do."

i agree. all i was saying was that in this case the univeristy's attempt to cloak it's actions under the "we were just thinking of the children" was bullshit!

yes i have no problem with them hammering sandusky if i'd caught him in the act...i'd have been using a REAL HAMMER!

there is no way to convice me he wasn't using his POSITION OF AUTHORITY to get the boys to cooperate expecialy those in that so-called charity of his!

but sorry bill i tend to think like the others. These laws have went LIGHT YEARS beyond reasonable so you can guarantee that when it now comes up in famlies they bury it and deal with it internally just like they did in the past! before the govt started passing the laws in the first place!

Posted by: rodsmith | Jul 11, 2012 1:36:26 AM

rodsmith --

"there is no way to convice me he wasn't using his POSITION OF AUTHORITY to get the boys to cooperate expecialy those in that so-called charity of his."

Bingo! Most unfortunately, this and some similar episodes over the years make you wonder about what goes on with these childrens "charities." That might be unfair, but it's inescapable.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 11, 2012 9:20:18 AM

Marc Shepherd (Jul 10, 2012 4:20:37 PM):

I wasn't addressing the Sandusky case directly. It's simple enough for me though.

If I really disliked the perpetrator (let's call the perp a male), felt he was a bad person, or knew that he was a supporter of the Registries or that type of big, overreaching, do-everything-for-you nanny governments, then I would turn him in. If none of that was the case, I wouldn't turn the person in even if I couldn't get him/her to stop trying to victimize people.

Again, if the governments (collectively) were not such immoral morons, I might ask them to help me deter a child molester. But since they are, I won't.

And where are the responsible parents in all this anyway? Good parents don't need a child molester to be in jail (or on a Registry) to keep that person from harming their children. The only excuse for that is I realize that some children don't have parents or real guardians. It's too bad our governments can't be trusted to help even them.

Yea, I'll never turn to the governments for help. Just yesterday I read an article about New Jersey wanting to take action against "sex offenders" on Facebook and Simi Valley wanting to restriction Halloween activities. The stupidity of these criminal governments is simply outrageous, offensive, and stunning. I will give them the respect and deference they deserve.

Posted by: FRegistryTerrorists | Jul 11, 2012 9:23:14 AM

oncefallendotcom --

"If the Sandusky trial taught us anything, it is that you CAN be convicted without any evidence."

Next time we hear that Defendant X was "convicted without any evidence," I trust the board will remember this gem. If not, I'll be happy to lodge a reminder.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 11, 2012 9:27:05 AM

Guy (Jul 10, 2012 10:14:36 PM):

You said, "feeling secure vs being secure".

The very funny thing is that it makes the stupid people (i.e. most people) feel a lot less secure than they would be in their ignorant bliss. I love it when that happens. They deserve it.

A person listed on a Registry should find the best neighborhood possible to live in because generally, you will find more intelligent and successful people living there. I know from a good bit of personal experience that those types of people are a lot more likely to treat the Registries as they should be treated. If a Registered person wants drama, stupid behavior, and chaos - move into a trailer park.

Posted by: FRegistryTerrorists | Jul 11, 2012 9:30:18 AM

guy: "There is a good deal of evidence that these laws don't do much in the way of public protection,"

me: actually as a study which your own side posted and promoted on here earlier has shown that sex offender registries do have a substantial deterent effect against people committing initial sex offenses - fewer people raping children is protecting the public.

guy: "that it's really mostly about shaming and retribution"

me: you say that as if it is a bad thing - what is so bad about shaming pedophiles and rapists? As your side's own studies have shown the shaming and retribution aspects of the punishment have actually deterred crime - plus the increased sentences such that child rapists now are practically guaranteed to spend the rest of their life in custody has an excellent incapacitation effect.

Basically what upsets you - and FRT who hopefully even you see as beyond the pale in his stance that people should look the other way when they know that children are being raped - about the sex offender registries is that they actually do work.

Erika :)

Posted by: Erika | Jul 11, 2012 9:58:12 AM

"actually as a study which your own side posted and promoted on here earlier has shown that sex offender registries do have a substantial deterent effect against people committing initial sex offenses - fewer people raping children is protecting the public."

Actually I believe the study which you're referring to actually concluded that community notification laws MAY have some deterrent effect on first time offenders, and additionally that registries and residency restrictions themselves have either no effect on the rate of sex abuse or are actually counter-productive.

"you say that as if it is a bad thing - what is so bad about shaming pedophiles and rapists? As your side's own studies have shown the shaming and retribution aspects of the punishment have actually deterred crime - plus the increased sentences such that child rapists now are practically guaranteed to spend the rest of their life in custody has an excellent incapacitation effect."

I would argue that it stands in direct contrast to the idea of reintegration, especially when that shaming is not just applied to pedophiles and rapists but to everyone on the registry, in equal measure and in lifetime doses. That lack of renitegration, in turn, feeds recividism (which, there actually is research to support). If you like the idea of shaming and punishing *more* than actually preventing sexual violence, though, who am I to stand in your way?

"Basically what upsets you - and FRT who hopefully even you see as beyond the pale in his stance that people should look the other way when they know that children are being raped - about the sex offender registries is that they actually do work."

That's actually not what upsets me at all. What upsets me is that people, such as yourself, seem to believe that they work than they actually don't do diddly do prevent sexual violence, all while scapegoating society's schizophrenic sexual mores onto a disenfranchised group and simultaneously giving everyone a big old dose of false security.

And of course I don't think anyone should look the other way when a child is being raped, or when anything of the sort is happening. Do I think that the ridiculous punitive nature of our sex offender laws lead to that sort of thing happening? Absolutely. You'd have to be a head-in-the-sand apologist not to acknowledge that. I don't think it happened with the Penn State case -- I think that was a lot more about protecting an institution than a person -- but I do think it happens *especially* in cases of intrafamilial rape and incest. I have three friends who were abused as children whose parents didn't report *precisely* because of worry about what the criminal justice system would do to the family. I know that's anecdotal, but I'm also guessing I'm not the only person in the country who knows people who that sort of thing has happened to.

Posted by: Guy | Jul 11, 2012 10:36:08 AM

Erika (Jul 11, 2012 9:58:12 AM):

Good God, you are so clueless, I don't even know where to start.

I have no idea how you convoluted what I said into "people should look the other way". What I said was that if abuse was happening, I was not going to involve any moronic criminals (i.e. governments) in the process. Not unless I wanted them to further screw things up. That's all.

That applies more than 100% to incidences of teenage sex. Whomever thought getting the criminal governments involved in that is a good idea truly is an idiot. What parent thinks that? If my children are doing something "wrong" or something that I (and most parents) do not want them to be doing, that my f#&#ing, retarded, criminal governments should get involved in it for some reason? It's unreal.

Also, you think the Registries are a deterrent to sex crimes? That's funny. It's not the arrest and years in prison, it's the possibility of being on a list that someone would even think twice about? You know what I find amazing about people who have never been in jail? In that's they don't seem to think it's a very big deal. Americans talk about and toss out sentences of 2 years, 5 years, 10 years (!!!!), like it's not even anything. No big deal all. "Oh, he only did 10 years for rape!!" It is disgusting how cavalier Americans are about throwing people in jail and forgetting about them. It makes me ashamed to be associated with this country. You know, there are a LOT of people who think a year in jail is a very big deal and will change their behavior to avoid that. The Registries as a deterrent is a joke.

Don't worry about trying convince me that the Registries "work". I know better. I have a wide range of absolute, first-hand knowledge that they are useless. Anyone listed on one who wants to commit a sex crime (and not get caught), can create the situation needed and do it. Further, the Registries promote sex crimes. But hey, if they are so great, where are the rest of the Registries? They would have been created a decade ago if they actually worked.

You know what does work? I keep an eye on all my neighbors and anyone else and assume that they may do something illegal to me or my family. Works well. No big government list needed for that. A brain helps though.

Lastly, the fact that you think shaming is a good idea is conclusive proof that you are clueless. Don't even need to start to go into that.

Posted by: FRegistryTerrorists | Jul 11, 2012 11:22:24 AM

I don't understand how people believe the Registry is good and they think it is great to humiliate sex offenders but care so little about whether or not they have a family.
How will the registry affect my 12, 11 and 9 year old children when they realize their father can not attend their little league games, can't attend parent teacher conferences and in our state we won't be able to decorate for Halloween? Do you want to see them cry? Guess so. Many people say so what if it shames them but they don't give a damn about the children that it will also shame and damage. Protect the children....except those children. What hypocrites.

Posted by: Obvious | Jul 11, 2012 2:26:11 PM

Obvious --

Would you say your own behavior played any role in the suffering your children experience?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 11, 2012 3:43:54 PM

Bill:

Don't you think the same public protection benefits (whatever those are, and however small those are, and however counter-productive they may be) can be still obtained whilst simultaneously allowing offenders to have semi-normal lives, including allowing their families to be free from harassment?

I'm still too young to have children...well actually I guess not seeing as how people have children at any age now. But regardless, a few of my friends are on the registry and have children. Those children experience a great deal of harassment and isolation themselves (e.g. once other parents learn that their parents are on the registry, they're not allowed to play with their children, etc).

I'm certainly not saying that our actions have no part in where we're at. But we have been punished, oftentimes severely (and in the opinion of folks like Erika, nowhere nearly enough), but regardless, we've ostensibly paid the price have we not? Why also force our families to pay it in perpetuity right along with us?

Posted by: Guy | Jul 11, 2012 3:57:17 PM

Bill,
I am the spouse of a future registrant. No, my behavior did not play in to my children's experience.
Since you are concerned about behavior, let me explain my husband's behavior. I think I have a couple of times, but let me do so again.
He was viewing legal pornography on line. Sharing legal pictures with others online. A stranger got his e-mail address and sent two illegal pictures. When the stranger was contacted by law enforcement they went through the strangers e-mail and saw he sent pictures to my husband. My husband was convicted of "Receiving" CP. That is the big bad behavior that we should all be ashamed of.

Posted by: Obvious | Jul 11, 2012 3:58:04 PM

Obvious (Jul 11, 2012 2:26:11 PM):

Well, I hope you take it personally.

But unlike the Registry Terrorists, let me be fair. Most of the people who support the Registries are terrible, immoral, Unamericans. But not all of them are. The decent Americans who support the Registries are just uninformed and misguided. I think those people justify the Registries, not because they want to harm you and your family, but because they believe the positives outweigh the negatives.

I think they believe that the children they "save" from you (because their parents are lazy fools) are worth the sacrifice of your own children. I think it just boils down to that. I surmise they think it will just be yet another "childhood injury" that your children endure in your home and once they escape, they can spend some years healing on their own. Or not.

I'm not sure how they justify not having other types of Registries. That makes no sense to anyone.

As far as the Registry Terrorists, I think you should treat them as Unamericans who are your enemies. You should treat them as they treat you. I taught my children that. I taught them that those people will try to harm them. I taught them that life is a competition literally against people like that and the goal was to have a better life than them, at their expense when necessary.

In that respect, I can't say the Registries were bad for my children. It taught them early on to beat people. My children are all very successful and have great lives. They don't trust the governments or law enforcement so I think they are in good shape. Your children can win as well. Teach them to compete and beat people.

Posted by: FRegistryTerrorists | Jul 11, 2012 4:03:21 PM

Obvious --

Your recounting of your story suffers from the characteristic defects of completely one-sided, truncated and anonymous accounts.

I have my doubts, frankly. You make like your husband was innocent and got snookered by the entirely unexpected and unwanted receipt of obscene pictures.

Would you mind posting either the indictment or the statement of facts in the guilty plea so that I can see for myself? You can blank out names or other identifying info. But my years in court tell me there is more to this story than we're getting from you.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 11, 2012 6:24:51 PM

Your perspective suffers from too many years of gotcha law enforcement.
Was my husband completely innocent? Well, he did receive those pictures so his charge was receipt and yep, he pleaded guilty to receipt. How can you argue any differently? Did he knowingly receive them? That is different. How do you know in advance what you inbox will hold on any given day or any given moment?
Keep in mind that Receipt gets a mandatory minimum of 5 years in prison and you can not argue an affirmative defense.
One night (Feb 1, 2007) Lee S from Ohio sent CP images to a lot of people (but my guess is that he did this on a regular basis) One of them on Feb 1, 2007 was my husband. It was the first and only night he ever contacted my husband. I would prefer not to go in to more details here on a public forum. I don't really have the time or skills to find the document and blank out information.
LE came to our house 5 months later.
They could have charged possession but we could have had an affirmative defense since it was two pictures that they charged him with.
I do resent that you doubt my word. I hope to be able to tell the whole thing very publicly when my husband is free. Until then, see if you can find Lee S.

Posted by: Obvious | Jul 11, 2012 7:50:35 PM

Obvious --

"I do resent that you doubt my word."

You give an abbreviated, anonymous account of an unknown case in which you have a stake and in which you are married to a party. I would have to be an idiot not to think that you might have a bias. Any even half-way serious person would seek a fuller and more neutral account.

"I hope to be able to tell the whole thing very publicly when my husband is free. Until then, see if you can find Lee S."

I have less than no interest in finding Lee S. nor in collecting and passing around the sort of material you say your husband was into.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 11, 2012 11:20:14 PM

Obvious's husband sounds like a victim of the feminist lawyer and its male running dogs now totally running all of government. Here is something that he could probably never get his defense lawyer to do. Go after the vile feminist personally and the feminist on the bench. Start with total e-discovery of all government and personal computers. I bet they contain messages indicating animus against he productive male. I bet they contain child porn. Refer all child porn in DOJ computers to the FBI. Attack the judge as well, allowing this witch hunt to proceed.

As they will prosecute images of naked running the pool, and any other innocent depiction, they give no quarter. Their personal destruction should become a standard of due professional care for all defense lawyers. Because of their self-dealt tort immunity violence against them has full justification in formal logic. They are the New Inquisition. It will only end when they are all beheaded after an hour's fair trial, as was done in the French Revolution with the prior Inquisition. To deter.

The defense lawyer is likely a former prosecutor, a feminist, and friends with the DOJ thug. The defense lawyer owes his job to the prosecutor and not to the client.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 12, 2012 6:40:47 AM

"I have less than no interest in finding Lee S. nor in collecting and passing around the sort of material you say your husband was into."
If he was "into" anything it was legal.
But back to the original point. Yes, the sex crime laws are too severe and radical. Anyone who supports them denies the fact that they create a new class of victims.
I fail to see how we talk endlessly about how wrong it is to bully someone and then turn around and say shaming someone is ok no matter, even if it the child of a sex offender.
Again, What hypocrites.

Posted by: Obvious | Jul 12, 2012 10:34:10 AM

Obvious --

The reason I asked for the indictment or (preferably the statement of facts attached to the plea agreement) was that your version just seems so wildly far-fetched.

Your version of the statement would read thusly: "Defendant X, previously a collector and disseminator of legal pornography, suddenly, for no reason connected to him, and without his knowledge or intent, or any inducement whatever on his part, adventitiously and fleetingly received images of illegal child pornography. Therefore he pleads guilty."

I was an AUSA for 18 years, and not once did I read a statement of facts anything like that. To say the least, it strains credulity to think it said anything of the kind.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 12, 2012 10:50:38 AM

Obvious stated: "Do you want to see them cry? Guess so. Many people say so what if it shames them but they don't give a damn about the children that it will also shame and damage. Protect the children....except those children. What hypocrites."

And here lies the problem. As is typical with SO's and their supporters, you blame everyone else for the pain caused to your kids. They (and you) are victims of your spouse, not the government.

Bill is absolutely correct that your story is almost completely implausible. As someone who worked with SO's directly for several years, I have heard almost the EXACT same story a hundred times. In every case, I would later find out via other staff that you had to add several zeros to the number of pictures or relevant facts like the emails were forwarded to dozens of others were left out.

Even if we take your word as fact, you have to admit that your spouse was walking a fine line on the edge of legality. I would be far more upset at my spouse for putting my family at risk by walking that line than the government for chopping off the pinky toe when it went over. It does not take a genius to figure out that if you collect enough porn, SOMEONE is going to eventually send you the illegal variety.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Jul 12, 2012 12:24:22 PM

this is true tarls!

" It does not take a genius to figure out that if you collect enough porn, SOMEONE is going to eventually send you the illegal variety."

but i'd think society would be better served to go after the one who SEND IT!

plus people like me who are paranoid and suspisious NATURAL make that next leap far too many never even thing about let alone take!

here we have an individual who maybe creates cp and is def distributiong it....so it's not rocket sciene that he is the one you need to hammer! not cut sweetheart deals with when he tosses others under the bus! Who if he was really sneaky maybe arranged to make sure SOME of those he sent it to were picked out of the blue from random lists of emails...just to have SOMEONE to toss under said bus! who would have NO BODY they could do the same to! which would draw govt officals like parana! moving the original crook to the back burner with his sweetdeal!

Posted by: rodsmith | Jul 12, 2012 12:46:50 PM

Obvious:

Bill is right. You can never trust anyone to tell you the truth or the whole story. Even if you have known someone for a very long time and believe they are always 100% honest, you should still always be at least slightly cautious. People and situations change, you never fully know what a person is thinking. So, don't take it personally. I'm sure you've heard the old saying that goes something similar to "Don't try to convince people you are telling the truth. Your real friends don't need it and your enemies will never believe you."

Once your husband is listed on the glorious Registry, you will find that very few people will believe you. If I were you and your husband, I would simply never speak about his conviction or being Registered again, except perhaps sometimes with family or very close friends. Let the criminal governments and the terrorists play their games, don't participate in it. Do only what you are forced to do at the point of a gun and no more. Don't try to explain to your neighbors why your husband is not actually dangerous and the un-Registered gangbanger across the street who shoots people is. Tell them to mind their own business and if they won't, tell them to go F themselves.

I think you can be assured that later people will get the police reports, indictments, etc. on your husband and they will believe what they read. People who read that stuff and believe it represents reality are not just fools, they are very naive as well. But regardless, that will be the "facts" for them and they will likely not believe what you say. So don't worry about people like that. They are a waste of your time.

You are right about Bill as well. He definitely should not put reliance on indictments or statements of fact. I know from personal experience that they can be filled with absolute, undebatable lies.

Posted by: FRegistryTerrorists | Jul 12, 2012 12:53:47 PM

TarlsQtr (Jul 12, 2012 12:24:22 PM):

You are correct that a person who has committed a crime is the person responsible for bringing trouble upon himself and his family.

Are you saying that the trouble has no bounds? So, a court can say "your punishment is a, b, and c" but years and years later, x, y, and z can be added to that?

Also, is what Obvious saying accurate? If someone e-mails me child porn, I can get arrested for it and have no defense at all?

Posted by: FRegistryTerrorists | Jul 12, 2012 12:56:17 PM

FRT stated: "Are you saying that the trouble has no bounds?"

The trouble the government can inflict should be within the "bounds" of the law. The unintended consequences of a criminal act (e.g. pain caused to children) are on the criminal, not government.

You stated: "So, a court can say "your punishment is a, b, and c" but years and years later, x, y, and z can be added to that?"

I do not believe that sentences should be extended years after the fact, if that is indeed what you are asking.

You stated: "Also, is what Obvious saying accurate? If someone e-mails me child porn, I can get arrested for it and have no defense at all?"

I am not an attorney, but I strongly suspect that if the spouse of Obvious brought the laptop/computer down to the local PD directly after realizing what the email contained, (s)he would have received a pat on the back instead of shiny bracelets. I strongly suspect that at the VERY LEAST, Obvious's spouse still had the pics on the computer when the police knocked on the door 5 months later.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Jul 12, 2012 1:27:05 PM

Rodsmith stated: "but i'd think society would be better served to go after the one who SEND IT!"

I am not sure the two are mutually exclusive. In fact, the sender was arrested according to Obvious's version of events.

You stated: "here we have an individual who maybe creates cp and is def distributiong it....so it's not rocket sciene that he is the one you need to hammer! not cut sweetheart deals with when he tosses others under the bus!"

I agree 100%.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Jul 12, 2012 1:30:07 PM

TarlsQtr (Jul 12, 2012 1:27:05 PM):

Yea, I suppose my biggest problem with Registration is that it is a system whereby lots of criminal governments and other people can increase a person's legal sentence whenever they feel like it for the rest of the person's life (or at least, many years after the end of the legal sentence). Courts and people can argue all they want about whether x or y are "punishment", but it is clear. Anything that requires a Registered person to do or not do anything is further punishment. It is not legitimate to say "You committed a crime, now we can do a bunch of stuff to you and make it up as we go. And it's all your fault, we have no blame."

The Registries would be a lot less immoral and un-American if just a few steps were taken:

1) Create all the other Registries. Anyone convicted of a crime that harmed anyone would be listed.

2) People listed on the Registries have no obligation to give any information to criminal governments.

3) People listed on the Registries have no obligation to do anything.

That's it. Then everyone would be "informed" and safe. I would know all about my neighbor who shot his last neighbors, etc.

Until those steps are taken, I will continue to understand that the Registries are immoral, etc., they should be retaliated against at every opportunity, and we are in a war. But at least we are saving a lot of children, aren't we?

Posted by: FRegistryTerrorists | Jul 12, 2012 2:11:53 PM

Tarls:

In rebuttal to your suspicions. How likely do you think it would be that anyone who reads that story is going to report seeing child pornography? Isn't that certainly one example of the harshness and ridiculousness of laws in this area creating more victims?

And that's just one example. That I could think off. Off the top of my head. After a long day of work. If you look, I'm sure there's plenty more.

Posted by: Guy | Jul 12, 2012 9:42:34 PM

Guy,

A few points.

1) This article is from the UK, not the US.

2) This guy has not been arrested.

3) This is a "loaded" story. For instance, it claims that "social services has decided that Robinson is a threat" which does not appear to be accurate. He is being investigated, which does not mean that his kid will be taken away once the facts come out.

4) I am not saying that this has not/will not ever happen in the US (although I know of no such examples). Such stupidity is possible but should be dealt with on a case by case basis.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Jul 13, 2012 12:51:05 PM

Guy,

I researched the story a little more and it appears that he will not be allowed alone with his child for four months and the laptop will be kept for investigation for a year.

Assuming that this guy is telling the truth, I would wholeheartedly agree that there is a miscarriage of justice here. Neither the police nor Social Service investigations should take anywhere near that long. Social Services should be able to wrap-up their inquiry in a couple of days and the police in a couple of weeks.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Jul 13, 2012 1:09:39 PM

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