Sunday, May 31, 2009
Predator Panic: A Closer Look
“Protect the children.” Over the years that mantra has been applied to countless real and perceived threats. America has scrambled to protect its children from a wide variety of dangers including school shooters, cyberbullying, violent video games, snipers, Satanic Ritual Abuse, pornography, the Internet, and drugs.
Hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars have been spent protecting children from one threat or other, often with little concern for how expensive or effective the remedies are—or how serious the threat actually is in the first place. So it is with America’s latest panic: sexual predators.
According to lawmakers and near-daily news reports, sexual predators lurk everywhere: in parks, at schools, in the malls—even in children’s bedrooms, through the Internet. A few rare (but high-profile) incidents have spawned an unprecedented deluge of new laws enacted in response to the public’s fear. Every state has notification laws to alert communities about former sex offenders. Many states have banned sex offenders from living in certain areas, and are tracking them using satellite technology. Other states have gone even further; state emergency leaders in Florida and Texas, for example, are developing plans to route convicted sex offenders away from public emergency shelters during hurricanes. “We don’t want them in the same shelters as others,” said Texas Homeland Security Director Steve McCraw. (How exactly thousands of desperate and homeless storm victims are to be identified, screened, and routed in an emergency is unclear.)
To many people, sex offenders pose a serious and growing threat—especially on the Internet. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has made them a top priority this year, launching raids and arrest sweeps. According to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, “the danger to teens is high.” On the April 18, 2005, CBS Evening News broadcast, correspondent Jim Acosta reported that “when a child is missing, chances are good it was a convicted sex offender.” (Acosta is incorrect: If a child goes missing, a convicted sex offender is among the least likely explanations, far behind runaways, family abductions, and the child being lost or injured.) On his NBC series “To Catch a Predator,” Dateline reporter Chris Hansen claimed that “the scope of the problem is immense,” and “seems to be getting worse.” Hansen claimed that Web predators are “a national epidemic,” while Alberto Gonzales stated that there are 50,000 potential child predators online.
Sex offenders are clearly a real threat, and commit horrific crimes. Those who prey on children are dangerous, but how common are they? How great is the danger? After all, there are many dangers in the world—from lightning to Mad Cow Disease to school shootings—that are genuine but very remote. Let’s examine some widely repeated claims about the threat posed by sex offenders.
the rest of the article is here. It was too long to print the whole thing.
This site has a lot of really good information for families and community members. I highly recommend visiting them and reading what they have to say. They advocate being SMART not scared.
Help Keep Kids Safe: Five Tips for Parents and the Community
By Nancy Sabin, Executive Director, Jacob Wetterling Resource Center
1. Set the tone Use a calm, vigilant and reassuring tone. When people are scared or stressed out, they don't think and act as smart as they otherwise could. Children pick up our cues, so if we’re scared, they’ll be scared. We need to act SMART, not SCARED so we make the choices that are in our best interests. When news is difficult, children need reassurance that "We’re doing everything we can to make sure you’re safe."
2. Talk about the rules for your family. Tell your children:
* Don’t go with any adult who asks you for your help....adults should ask other adults for help, they shouldn't ask kids.
* Most of the people in this world are good, but some are not. I want you to stay away from dangerous situations and behaviors, not certain kinds of people, just because they’re strangers. Remember on the first day of school when you met strangers who were your bus driver and your new teacher? They turned out to be good people who helped you. Remember that some people are strangers, most of them are good and they can help you too when no one else is around. A child is most likely to be sexually exploited by someone they know or have seen. They don’t think of them as a stranger such as a priest, a coach or a neighbor. Throw out the word, "stranger" because kids just don’t understand what it means.
* It's ok to keep surprises, but never keep a secret. Surprises don’t hurt others and are usually for just for a short time. Secrets are usually kept for a long time and they often hurt people. If someone asks you to keep a secret, tell your parents right away.
If you’re separated from me (the parent or caregiver) in the Mall or somewhere else, try to find a mom who has children and tell her you’re lost. Never leave the building with ANYONE except me, your caregiver.
* Let's hold hands wherever we go in public, because then people know I’m taking care of you. Don't go off to play by yourself unattended.
* Check first with me, your caregiver, before going anywhere with anyone or before accepting anything from anyone.
3. Play interactive "what if" games throughout your child or teen's life, in order to continuously reinforce personal safety. For example, ask your child when you're in the Mall, "What if we got separated, who would you run to for help? Why would you pick who you did?" Again, one of the safest bets is to run to a mom with children.
4. Reassure and regularly communicate with your children at all stages in their lives. Communicating only in times of crisis doesn't encourage children to come forward with needs and concerns in everyday situations. Ask them to show you how to go online and where some of their favorite places are.
5. Report any unusual activity that you witness, related to children or adults within your community. If your intuition or "guts" tell you something is odd or wrong, it probably is. Speak up. Check things out further. Trust your instincts and tell your kids to do the same! When trying to head off "risky situations", look for these types of Red Flags:
* Don’t go with any adult who asks you for your help....adults should ask other adults for help, they shouldn't ask kids.
* Adults who want to spend time with your child in unique or isolated situations
* Children who suddenly withdraw from other children and want to spend more of their time with a particular adult
* Children who are receiving unexplained gifts, cell phones, event tickets, clothes, etc.
* Adults who take children to special places where they do not take other children or adults
* Adults who spend long periods of time alone with a particular child in private places (i.e., long trips, overnights, secluded parks/buildings)
Let these five steps be your beginning to helping us create a safer world for our children.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Please feel free to share my paper for non-commercial uses with individuals provided you leave the paper complete with my name on it and the context in which the paper was presented. (I may post it on my own Website so that more people can access the full argument directly rather than merely seeing threads of it on the Internet.
As I mentioned, it is a conference paper--an opportunity to test out ideas and encourage discussion and even agreement; it is not a referreed article in which every last fact has been checked and double-checked. Unfortunately, I haven't yet had the chance to develop a full bibliography for the paper from my research notes; however, there are markers in the paper itself for sources of information quoted or borrowed. In fact, my paper was largely about how decisions are being made about "sexting" without reliable research and knowledge. Rather than everyone repeating "20% of Teens are Sexting" from a single, online survey that included 18- and 19-year-olds as "teenagers" (I know that literally they are teens, but under laws, including child pornography laws, they are adults!) and used as its definition of "sexting" the sending of "nude or semi-nude photos via cellphone", we should simply say, "We don't know how many teens are sexting. We don't know exactly of what that sexting consists. We don't know how many private exchanges become public. We don't know what sexting means to teens themselves." Moreover, our obsession with a purported epidemic of teen sexting obscures the fact that "young adults" (20-26) are doing this far more frequently than teens, and we don't have any knowledge whatsoever of what "adult adults" are doing vis-a-vis sexting.
It was nice to hear someone of his stature speak out with a voice of reason. It is so hard to have rational discussions when it comes to these issues especially when it comes to teens and sex.
His speech in full follows.....
Roundtable on Youth, Sexuality, Technology
Joint Session of Association for Research in Cultures of Young People (ARCYP)
and Association of
May 26, 2009, 10:30 – 11:45 a.m.
Children’s Rights, Children’s Voices, Children’s Technology, Children’s Sexuality
by Peter Cumming
The title of today’s panel, “Youth, Sexuality, Technology,” sounds like a recipe for moral panic. And it is moral panic about a recent phenomenon, a purported epidemic of young people’s “sexting,” I wish to respond to briefly today. In particular, I want to contextualize teen sexting and adult responses to it by highlighting significant gaps in children’s rights discourse, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, in relation to children’s provision rights to healthy sexual exploration and expression and children’s participation rights as determinants of their own sexual being and behavior. Finally, I visit these issues as an embodied human being with his own distant history of childhood and sexuality—even if this occurred considerably before the invention of “digital technology”—though I fear that those of you came to this paper because of the abbreviated abstract’s promise that the author would contrast his own “childhood experiences exploring sexuality in 1950s rural Ontario with those of tweens in 2008” will be sadly disappointed at the few and tame revelations to come (while those of you who didn’t read the abstract and stumbled here because you thought this was a Geography panel may be equally relieved to hear this reassurance).
First, who are these “children,” including teenagers, adolescents, young people, young adults, about whom I am speaking, and why do I insist on calling them “children” in a panel on “youth”? The Convention on the Rights of the Child defines “children” as human beings under the age of 18: and it is to all these “children” I am referring. For better or worse, people under 18 all live in the confines of children’s rights discourse and child pornography laws. While there may well be significant distinctions to be made between prepubescent children and post pubescent youth, they are not distinctions I want to assume or reinscribe regarding sexuality and technology in relation to sexting: Following Freud, I recognize both children and youth as sexual beings, whatever that means differently to both, and I have no doubt that both children and youth (and adults, for that matter) are using digital technologies as part of their sexual repertoire.
Second, what is this “sexting,” which so neatly brings together the “sexuality” and “technology” dimensions of this panel (and to which, I believe, the third paper on this panel will also speak)? “Sexting,” a 21st-century combination of “texting” and “sex,” has been defined variously as the sending of nude or semi-nude photos or videos and/or sexually suggestive messages via cellphone texting or instant messaging. Although the word “sexting” is only a few years old, a handful of recent incidents in the United States, some misplaced and heavy handed legal overreactions charging children exchanging consensual nude photographs of themselves with the production, dissemination, and possession of child pornography, a single recent American online survey commissioned by the unusual alliance of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and CosmoGirl magazine, a media feeding frenzy, and even a May 6, 2009 episode of Law and Order have all served to create the impression that in the past few months there has erupted an epidemic of sexting among youth and that this is a thoroughly bad thing.
Although depicted in the media as a “nationwide” epidemic, in the last year or two there have been major police prosecutions for sexting with a limited number of individuals in at most a dozen U.S. states. There have been no cases of that kind in Canada. (I’ll leave the Australian cases for our colleague from Australia; significantly, I have not found instances from Europe except a single reference surmising that “the practice is not thought to be prevalent in Britain” (Times Online). Thus, the “epidemic” of sexting consists, according to breathless print and online sources, of four Grade 6 and 7 students in Alabama; three Pennsylvania girls (aged 14 and 15) and three male classmates (aged 16 and 17) (Wikipedia); 14-year-old Michael Harmon who received a photo of a classmate which showed her bare breasts (GASP); a 14-year-old Florida boy who sent a photo of his genitalia to a female classmate because he was “bored” (YAWN) (Macleans); a teenage boy in Indiana (Wikipedia); a 15-year-old Ohio high school girl —from the questionably named Licking Valley High School (“Porn Charges for ‘Sexting’); a 17-year-old Ohio girl; “two Ohio teenagers who had nude photos on their cell phones of two 15-year-old classmates” (Wikipedia); “dozens of white-faced 12- and 13-year-olds and pimply 14-year-olds with twitchy legs” in Colorado (“’Sexting’: A Disturbing”); two 16-year-old girls who took side-profile pictures of themselves naked after taking a shower (“’Sexting’: A Disturbing”); a group of 11- to 17-year old boys who traded photos of semi-nude or nude teenage girls (Sexting Girls); a 14-year-old New Jersey girl who posted 30 explicit nude pictures of herself on MySpace.com (Sexting Girls); six 12- to 14-year-olds from Massachusetts (Sexting Girls); a Texas eighth-grader who spent the night in a juvenile detention center after his football coach found a nude picture that a fellow student sent him on his cell phone (“’Sexting’ Shockingly”); a Wisconsin 17-year-old (“Sexting Craze”); a New York 16-year-old (“Sexting Craze”); and 18-year-old Phillip Alpert of Orlando, Florida who received unrequested naked pictures of his 16-year-old girlfriend but who mass-emailed the photos to the girl’s relatives when they broke up.
One of the major problems with public reactions to “sexting” is a complete conflation of nudity with sexuality and pornography. Thus, snapshots of two Pennsylvania 13-year-old girls which showed the teens “in their white bras” resulted in threats from a district attorney of charges of child pornography (Sexting Girls Facing). The photo of a 17-year-old in the same case showed “her just out of the shower, with a towel wrapped around her waist and her breasts exposed” (Sexting Girls). As the American Civil Liberties Union pointed out in its suit against the overly eager District Attorney, “Neither of the two [pictures] depicts sexual activity or reveals anything below the waist” . . . However, according to ACLU, “The district attorney told a group of parents and students … that he has the authority to prosecute girls photographed in underwear . . . or even in a bikini on the beach, because the photos are “provocative” (ACLU). Clearly, these photos do not fit under Pennsylvania’s child pornography law, which defines this felony based on photos “of a minor engaged in sexual activity, ‘lewd exhibition of the genitals,’ or nudity that is meant to titillate” (Sexting Girls).
Legal responses to teen sexting in the U.S. have been sledgehammer-like, including production and possession of child pornography, a felony which in some states can result in these children being labeled as registered sex offenders for decades; felony obscenity; being declared an “unruly child”; contributing to the delinquency of a minor; “sexual abuse of children… or open lewdness” (District); possessing and distributing material of a child in a sexual act (Sexting Girls); and disseminating indecent material to a minor and endangering the welfare of a child. The 18-year-old Florida man who sought revenge by emailing nude photos of his 16-year-old girlfriend to her family was convicted of transmission of child pornography, resulting in jail time, a label of “sex offender” until he is 43, which results in his inability to live with his father because his father lives near a school and with him having to attend classes with convicted sex offenders (Commentary, Mike Galanos, CNN). As Lithwick concludes, “the criminal justice system is probably not the best venue for addressing the sexting crisis. . . prosecutors have charged the senders of smutty photos, the recipients of smutty photos, those who save the smutty photos, and the hapless forwarders of smutty photos with the same crime: child pornography. Who is the victim here and who is the perpetrator? Everybody and nobody. (“Textual”).
In fairness, there has been some pushing back against this legal overzealousness. The ACLU was successful in making its case that the teenaged girls in question did not consent to having their pictures distributed, their images were not pornographic, and that the photos were protected under First Amendment speech (Sexting Girls). Several states have recently moved towards aligning their laws more closely with teenagers’ practices in relation to sexuality and technology, Vermont legalizing consensual exchange of graphic images between people 13 to 18 (Wikipedia) and Ohio and Utah reducing sexting from a felony to a first degree misdemeanor. Although one online writer has argued that “case law has not kept up with the impact of digital media on teenage behavior” (“Sexting Craze”), I would argue that this has the order reversed: case law has not kept up with the impact of teenage behavior on digital media. Or, more precisely, as David Oswell argues in “Ethics and Techno-Childhood,” “Childhood is never disclosed in isolation; it is always accompanied by technology. Technology makes childhood visible as a problem. In doing so both technology and childhood, like leaky vessels, leak into each other. I refer to this as techno-childhood: the interrelation between, and the mutual constitution of, technology and childhood” (170). When Toronto criminal lawyer Edward Greenspan quips that “the only way to stop teens from sexting is to take away their cellphones, and teens would sooner give up a lung,” he unwittingly recognizes this tight connection between children and technology, technology being what Nick Lee calls “an extension of childhood.”
What interests me most about the purported dystrophic epidemic of sexting is how these widely publicized legal cases—cautionary tales writ large—and a single online survey about teens, young adults, and sexting have fuelled and shaped a media frenzy resulting in articles with titles such as “The Sexting Scare,” “Sexting Craze Leads to Child Pornography Charges,” “20% Chance Your Child May Be a Sex Offender!,” “Sexting Poses Risk to Teens’ Health,” “Sexting Teens Face Prison and Sexual Predator Status for Nude Photos,” “Want to Stop Sexting, CyberBullying & Digital Disease?,” “Textual Misconduct: What to Do About Teens and their Dumb Naked Photos of Themselves,” and “ Technology Fuelling Sexting Craze.” Not to mention a Website: sextingisstupid.com.
In spite of these headlines, as Macleans magazine rightly notes, “the statistical proof of a sexting epidemic is scant: one lone survey.” Indeed, a much more careful reading of the “Sex and Tech” survey is called for. . . . It was conducted completely online; its commissioners no doubt have vested interests in the results; it is clearly not directly applicable to Canada; its definition of teens as ages 13 to 19 and young adults as 20 to 26 may fit the literal definition of “teenager,” but it also perversely skirts legal definitions of “childhood” including those in relation to child pornography, thus skewing statistics about teen sexting accordingly; most importantly, the very broad category of “nude or semi-nude” photos used in the survey questions recognizes no distinctions between nudity, sexuality, and pornography. However, even if we accept the survey data, there is much more to learn than most media reports suggest. Article after article expresses shock that 20% of teens sext, none recognizing that that implies a more amazing fact—that 80% of teens do not. The survey shows that far more young adults (33%) than teens (20%) are sexting, yet no comparable alarm about young adults has emerged. The survey indicates that twice as many teens and young adults send sexually explicit text messages (39%of teens; 59% of young adults) as send nude photos (20% of teens, 33% of young adults), yet all media attention focuses on visual images. According to the survey, more girls sext than boys: 22% of teen girls vs. 18% of teen boys; 36% of young adult women vs. 31% of young adult men. Although most accounts explain this as boys pressuring girls to sext, more girls in the survey consider sexting “fun and flirtatious.” (51% of teen girls give pressure from a guy as their reason for sending, while 66% of teen girls and 72% of young adult women claim the activity to be “fun & fliratious.”)
While Canadian media responses have generally been more muted to the sexting epidemic, they too easily fall into the trap of assuming that what is true in the United States will necessarily be true here too. And so, the Vancouver Province says that sexting “has Canadian officials on the alert” even though “there have been few [no?] publicized cases in Canada to date.” “Cpl. Annie Linteau, the RCMP B.C.’s spokeswoman, said she hadn’t heard of the trend. “But I’d be surprised if it wasn’t happening here,” (O’Connor). Indeed, there may be critical differences between sexting in Canada and south of the border. It is not a crime in Canada for consenting young people under 18 to exchange nude photos, for example. And in Vancouver, “… local school officials said unlike their American peers, they would be reluctant to report sexting as a crime to police.”
There are a few sane voices in the furor over sexting. JSS writes in an online column “Sexting Hysteria,” “the hysterical and infectious drive to stem sexting among teens and to put it on the level of child pornography has accelerated in just a few weeks. . . . Nothing has actually changed except that the kind of adults who do not engage in sexting, themselves, found out that teen-agers were doing it….Teen-agers fumbling with their sexuality and technology is not something that should scare anyone into legislation, and schools shouldn’t be overreacting either.” (jss, “Sexting Hysteria”). Indeed, one could argue that in some ways virtual sexual activities are safer for teens than actual ones: nobody ever got pregnant or received an STD directly from an online exchange. In “Is ‘Sexting’ Same as Porn?,” Goodman writes, “There is nothing particularly new about young people taking pictures of themselves. It’s as old as the Polaroid.” In fact, I’d argue it’s older than that. Goodman also argues that “The panic not only erases the line between stupid and criminal, it dilutes the real horror of child pornography.” Lithwick raises concerns that girls are being punished disproportionately, being charged with producing while boys were merely charged with possessing pornography. Clearly, a key danger in sexting is not in the initial exchange of nude photos between two partners or potential partners but in the dangers of losing control of those images in the powerful, immediate, omnipotent, eternal, digital world. In a blog, Dann writes, “these kids don’t get the idea that everything you do online becomes a digital tattoo. ….Sexting is a dumb thing to do, not only because it effectively gives your body away to everyone else, but because you have no control over what happens after you hit the send button.” (Dann’s Blog) .
To contextualize youth sexting we should remember our own sexual histories as young people. Apart from digital media’s power to disseminate information quickly and broadly, there may be nothing radically new about sexting. The closest I ever came to being expelled from school was in Grade 2, when I was hauled before the authorities for looking up girls’ dresses. In 1957, in an
Perhaps, then, adult alarm about technology and youth sexuality is a red herring—except insofar as it relates to cyber-bullying and sexual harassment: one 18-year-old American woman committed suicide when a nude photo she sent to her then boyfriend came back to haunt her. Are there, for example, significant differences between teens learning to kiss while playing “Spin the Bottle” face-to-face and teen “chicks” and “dudes” going online to “Espin.com” to “spin the bottle and start flirting!” with “Over 4 Million Hotties”? Are there differences between youth playing face-to-face versus online “Strip Poker,” or between children investigating each other’s body parts while playing “Doctor” and teens sharing cell phone images of their naked bodies? As one Macleans reader writes, “Young people are showing each other their naked bodies! When did that ever happen before?”
Child pornography laws arise out of human rights legislation, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. However, children’s rights advocates have been more preoccupied with “protection” and “prevention” than with “provision” and “participation” rights in relation to children and their sexuality. The
Is nudity pornography? Not necessarily. Are consensual exchanges of naked photos between young people child pornography? Not in the first instance. Should child pornography charges be leveled against young people sharing naked photos of themselves? Definitely not. Can young people get into trouble by sharing sexually suggestive digital text, images, or video? Yes. Can this have real world consequences? Absolutely. However, teenagers have no monopoly on foolish choices and devastating consequences. Think, for example, of the infamous, intercepted cellphone conversation between the future King of England and his paramour in which he fantasizes about being a tampon so he can “live in her trousers”: no doubt that would have been sexting had the technology existed. When, we must ask, in Western culture, did nudity become pornography, youth sexuality perverse, digital technologies the tail wagging the dog, and when and how and why have we forgotten children’s participatory rights as sexual beings?
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Today in Miami there exists a group of people living under the Julia Tuttle Causeway Bridge. Homelessness is not new so why is this group news worthy? These people, I say people because there are both men and women living there, are not homeless for the usual reasons. The local laws have made them homeless and they are told they have to live there by their parole/probation officers. Why is this? It's because Miami has passed some of the most restrictive residency laws in the country. And to compound the problem the other localities are passing the same restrictions. They are afraid that RFOs will come live in their towns and they don't want that to happen. So now other colonies are springing up under other bridges. Florida has made this group of people worth less then animals. As I watch these laws being passed around the country I wonder where it all will end? It is not politically expedient to come out against these type of laws, politicians don't want to look like they aren't as tough on Sex Offenders as their colleagues are. I fear that in time we will have encampments of RFSOs living in remote areas away from sight of the communities. Out of sight out of mind. Remember the encampments created during WWII? The only thing the people forced to live there did wrong is be oriental. Media hysteria during that day created the mindset that they would spy on us and want the Japanese we were fighting to over take the country. Today RFOs are in the center of a campaign of media hype that drives the public to fear a stranger will snatch their children. In spite of the facts that show over and over again that children are more then 95% of the time molested by members of their own family or trusted adults in their family circle. Another fact that is ignored is that over 90% of offenses are first time offenses, and that Former Sex Offenders have the lowest re-offense rate of any other group other then murders. Various Law Enforcement studies have placed the rate of new sex offenses committed at 3.5% .
Here in Maine the Justice committee has introduced and worked hard on a bill that is currently waiting to be voted on by the Legislature. This bill will make a state wide limit that towns can chose to adopt or not but they can not make their ordinances any harsher. The bill would place a limit of 750 feet around schools and public parks. A lot more reasonable then what some towns like Westbrook already have on the books. Even though there is no evidence that having residency restrictions in place do anything to make children safer, Maine Law makers seem to be trying to appease the public hysteria while at the same time allowing RFSOs to stay in their communities and not end up homeless like they are in Miami.
Monday, May 25, 2009
ME - Vandals target Scarborough home
View the article here
In this day and age, people need to get security cameras, to catch these people in the act, and prosecute them.
By Al Edwards
SCARBOROUGH - When Ted Quinn woke up at his 213 Pleasant Hill Road home in Scarborough Tuesday morning, he noticed what he thought was frost on his kitchen window.
Quinn inspected the mark more closely and realized the spot on his window wasn’t from the cold. Someone had covered the outside of his home with white spray paint.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Quinn said Thursday. “I felt angry and violated.”
Either Monday night or early Tuesday morning, someone spray painted his home and garage with obscenities. His outdoor lighting, grill and patio were also sprayed, and his screen doors slashed, according to Scarborough police.
Quinn’s insurance company estimated the damage at about $25,000, he said.
It wasn’t the vandalism so much as the wording that bothers Quinn, who is a real estate agent for Ingalls Commercial Brokerage in South Portland.
“A big thing that really concerned me was the writing in three spots,” Quinn said. “I’ve lived here for a year and a half, my son’s 15, so I’ve coached baseball and basketball and a lot of my friends are Scarborough parents who know me. The problem is there are about 200 houses back here and this is prominently displayed. I had a conversation with one of my neighbors who said, ‘I bet a sex offender’s moved in and they are identifying him.’”
According to Scarborough’s sex offender registry, there is no person listed on the registry who lives on Pleasant Hill Road.
The family is still staying in the home, in which they have lived for a little more than a year.
Neighbors who know Quinn said they feel sorry for him and his family, but the wording has sparked curiosity, said Marjory Halacy of Flintlock Road just behind his house.
“That’s a hate crime, that’s the way I look at it,” she said. “It’s a terrible offense personally and also in the neighborhood. I’ve had 25, maybe 30 people who have stopped saying they were so concerned asking me, ‘who do we have living in the neighborhood?’ I just had to put my hands up and told them to please stop asking and not to go in that thought direction. It just reflects so badly on him as a person.”
Jan Strait, who lives up the road from Quinn on Tenney Road, said she was shocked at the level of hate.
“It looks like he was targeted specifically because they didn’t get anyone else,” she said. “I think it’s isolated. I think they thought they knew him and it was specifically for that person.”
That, Quinn said, is the most upsetting part of the vandalism.
“It is disturbing. I’m confident there is no one in my family that warranted this,” Quinn said. “To me, there’s so much, it looks like there is a lot of hate and a lot of anger in it. I’m confident that we didn’t create this much anger or create a situation for someone to do this. I really hope that whoever did it (will) accept responsibility for this. What was done is senseless.”
Scarborough police are investigating the vandalism. They do not have any leads at this time, but they said they believe the incident is isolated.
“My thought is it could be someone who knows him or his family, I don’t know," said Detective Sgt. Rick Rouse. "We don’t have any suspects at this time.”
Halacy said this is the first time in her 25 years of living in the neighborhood that she has seen this level of vandalism. However, she said, it’s not the first time problems have popped up in the area.
“I have had a lot of things stolen from my house here,” she said. “I had a 6-foot Nutcracker on my door, and that was ripped right off the door a couple of Christmases ago. I’ve had a flag and pole stolen off the side of the house, my Canadian Geese stolen and the hose on the side of my house had been cut at one time. I have dealt with a lot of problems.”
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Dear Mr. Maxwell and Mr. Hench,
First of all I would like to commend you on an excellent article based in truth and fact. I noticed that since this information as come to light that other media sources have become silent on the facts behind the case. Secondly, I am writing to you to bring attention to the very real fear that families of RFSOs (Registered Former Sex Offenders) live in. Herbert Jones is just another example of vigilante justice that exists in today's society. Anyone who wants to can access the online Registry to gather names to hunt them down. Remember the case of Steven Marshall who came here from Canada. He killed two men and intentioned to kill others. In other states vigilantes have killed not only RFSOs but innocent family members, as well. One sad example would be that of, Melissa Chandler who died in an arson fire set to kill her Sex Offender husband on Sept 4, 2007, in Helenwood, TN. Mr Chandler was not home at the time the fire was set and escaped. As of 2008, there have been 187 RFSO deaths attributed directly to the Registry being public. That figure does not include innocent family members. The news is quick to run stories about Sex Offenders and their crimes, making it seem like they are horrible monsters out stalking children, (Jessica Lunsford, Adam Walsh, Adam Wetterling to name a few). But not so quick to report when someone stalks them or their families. It is wrong for anyone to be hurt or killed! The original intent of the Registry under the Adam Wetterling Act was to maintain the Registry for use by Law Enforcement only. Even Ms. Patty Wetterling, whose son the Act was named after feels the Registry and other laws passed since then, have gone too far. (See: http://sexoffenderissues.blogspot.com/2009/04/interview-with-Patty-Wetterling-June-27.html, this interview was given to Richard Wright for his book Sex Offender Laws, Failed Policies, New Directions.) Another fact is the registry has become an over inclusive list, and even has many children on it. The Adam Walsh Act would force states to include children as young as 14. It lists crimes as varied as public indecency (flashing, mooning, even taking a pee behind a dumpster), statutory rape (often teens with a younger girlfriends) as well as the types of offenses you'd expect to see. While families are not proud of the Offenses that put their family members on the registry, we feel that we don't deserve to be publicly shamed, harassed or even killed. When a person is placed on the Registry his whole family is also impacted.
Again thanks for reporting the truth behind this attack. If you would like more information on this please contact me.
Jane M. Cantral
Coordinator for Maine Citizens For Change
PORTLAND — The man arrested Monday morning as he loaded a high-powered rifle near First Parish Church faces a charge of attempted murder, despite the fact that his alleged target was in jail at the time.
Herbert Jones, 46, was ordered held on $500,000 cash bail during a brief hearing Wednesday at Superior Court in Portland.
Judge Jeffrey Moskowitz granted a motion by the Cumberland County District Attorney's Office to seal the case documents. Prosecutors declined to answer questions about Jones on Wednesday afternoon.
As part of the bail conditions against Jones, however, Moskowitz ordered him not to have contact with three individuals, including 49-year-old Daniel Fraser of Portland.
Portland police confirmed that Fraser was the man Jones allegedly wanted to kill on Monday morning. The other two names on the no-contact list were those of a woman whom Jones was allegedly stalking, and another man he knew through Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
Jones also apparently knew Fraser through AA meetings. In statements to police, and in a jailhouse interview with the Portland Press Herald after his arrest, Jones said he planned to take the loaded gun into the AA meeting in the basement of the First Parish Church and shoot a convicted pedophile.
According to Maine's Sex Offender Registry, Fraser was convicted in January 2008 for unlawful sexual contact with a minor under the age of 14. Court records say the crime occurred in Brunswick while Fraser was homeless.
He was sentenced to three years in prison, with all but one year suspended.
People familiar with the morning AA meeting at the church said Fraser had not disclosed his criminal history to members, and they were unaware of it. However, his criminal history would have been readily available on a state Web site that shows all people who are required to register as sex offenders, their picture and the crime they committed.
Jones said in an interview Monday that he had seen a documentary on pedophiles two months ago and wanted to stop them from hurting anyone again, and that he aspired to be a vigilante targeting pedophiles and rapists.
Jones was arrested at 8 a.m. Monday in the area between First Parish Church and Portland High School after School Resource Officer Stephen Black interrupted Jones as he was loading rounds into a 7 mm Remington.
Police arrested Jones and seized a 12-gauge shotgun, 40 rounds of ammunition and four knives from his BMW convertible, which was parked outside the church. They also arrested Walter Begaye, 43, who was in the passenger seat as Jones was loading the rifle.
Jones said he had been with Begaye since the night before, but so far Begaye has been charged only with having a concealed weapon. Police found a knife partly hidden under the passenger seat, where he was sitting.
Fraser was arrested in Portland on May 8 for violating the conditions of his probation – he tested positive for methamphetamine. Cumberland County Chief Deputy Kevin Joyce said Fraser is serving a 30-day sentence at the jail.
Because of a no-contact order between Jones and Fraser issued by Judge Moskowitz, the jail will have to keep them separated, Joyce said.
"There are certain steps that they can take to alleviate any possible conflict between two individuals," he said.
Begaye also appeared in court Wednesday and was ordered held on $1,000 cash bail.
Meg Elam and Kate Tierney, the prosecutors handling the case for the Cumberland County District Attorney's Office, declined to comment.
Initially, Jones had been charged with terrorizing, stalking, possession of a firearm in a school zone and possession of a firearm by a felon. Police determined that Jones did not have a prior felony conviction, so that last count was dropped.
The other charges also were not brought by the prosecutors on Wednesday. Rather, there was just a single count of attempted murder.
Under Maine law, a person is guilty of attempted murder if he or she takes a substantial step toward the commission of the crime, with the intent to complete the action.
"A substantial step is any conduct that goes beyond mere preparation and is strongly corroborative of the firmness of the actor's intent to complete the commission of the crime," the statute reads.
The fact that the alleged target in this case, Fraser, was in jail and not at the church building on the morning Jones was arrested does not make a difference under the law. What matters is Jones' intent, and the steps he allegedly took to carry out that intent.
Daniel Lilley, a Portland defense lawyer with no connection to this case, said the situation is similar to one in which a defendant is accused of attempted unlawful sexual contact when the victim is really an undercover agent. There is no actual opportunity to commit the crime, but the intent allows for the charge to be brought anyway.
Lilley said it appears that Jones took substantial steps toward the commission of the crime, but the fact that the target was not available will make it more difficult for prosecutors.
"As a practical matter, it would be a tough case to convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt," Lilley said, "because of the reality of your inability to carry out the idea, even if the evil intent is there."
Monday's incident has not interfered with the morning AA meeting at the church, an open meeting that anyone can attend.
The Rev. Tim Jensen, pastor at First Parish Church, said that there has been some anxiety among the congregation, but that the church remains committed to serving people in the city and its hosting of the AA meetings.
Staff Writer Trevor Maxwell can be contacted at 791-6451 or at:
Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
It seems that each state, town and county is loaded with politicians using the system to make sure they gain electoral votes. If town x passes a law restricting where Former Sex Offenders can live Y and Z have to pass one that's more restrictive. It's like a game of one up man ship. And the few voices of reason are threatened and harassed into silence, or they risk loosing the next election.
Patty Wetterling, the mother of Jacob Wetterling who was abducted by a masked gunman over 18 years ago, when asked about how much legislator understand about the laws they are passing said, " Overall I would say they have very little understanding of the problem." "Second of all they usually propose legislation after another really horrible crime. So they have public sentiment and demand...THese are people who have to get reelected, and the goal is to look like they are the toughest on crime, t6hat they've done the most to go after these bad boys. They name laws are either compelling, compassionate, like after the child, or the PROTECT Act, The Adam Walsh Act is named after a child. There are so many named after children, Dru's Law, Jessica's Law. It gives the sense that this is a compassionate and caring and that it will make the world safer. Often, it doesn't." Taken from the book Sex Offender Laws, Failed Policies, New Directions, editted by Richard Wright. Click here to read the chapter.
If this mother who tragically lost her child and whose son's name is on one of the first Registery Laws can change her mind this way why can't others?
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Pink Triangles and Swastikas
R. L. Gregory
“Those who would sacrifice liberty in the name of safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Benjamin Franklin 1759
When Adolph Hitler came to power in 1933, one of his earliest acts was to see amended and enforced certain existing provisions of the German penal code. Between 1933 and 1936, the Nazi regime mandated that Paragraphs 173 through 188 be expanded, modified, or added, criminalizing homosexuality as well as all other “unnatural” and “sexually deviant” behaviors. enforce
When read today, those paragraphs bear an eerie similarity to “Megan’s Law”, the initial mandate establishing Sexual Offender Registries. The law implemented by the Third Reich instituted the first sexual offender registry. It mandated that convicted offenders wear pink triangles to alert their communities, and established severe penalties for conviction which included disenfranchisement, lengthy prison sentences, confinement in concentration camps, or execution. From a contemporary perspective, perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the German code was the reasoning behind it: to protect children and the community. “The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people,” Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf. “As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation.” i
The sexual offender registries of the computer era are enormously more effective and global than those of the Third Reich. A few mouse clicks, and an individual in Sidney, Australia can determine the name, home address and workplace of every sexual offender in Indianapolis, without (most terrifyingly) ever revealing his or her own identity or even the reason for seeking such information. It was just this ease of access and global availability of the offender registries that two years ago permitted a young Canadian citizen to randomly download the information on 34 offenders in Maine and murder two of them before committing suicide. Government’s failure to even include such vigilantism within the text of hate-crime laws sends a clear message that these murders are of minimal importance. Worse, the accruing collateral damage in the deaths of innocent spouses and family members at the hands of vigilantes has resulted in the destruction of the very innocent lives that the registries were intended to protect.
Primarily responsible for this 21st century witch hunt are politicians and the media. Recycling outdated statistics and inciting public hysteria about sex offenders galvanizes voters and attracts viewers and readers. Unfortunately, just as the rare serial killer focuses public attention toward murderers in general, the rare violent pedophile skews public perception of the actual behaviors, chances of recidivism, and treatment potential of sexual offenders. U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics found that all sex offender rearrrest rate for new sex crimes against a child was only 2.2%.ii Treatment of non-violent sexual offenders demonstrates a 90 to 93% overall success rate.iii Ninety-six percent of all child sexual offenses are perpetrated not by strangers, but by a member of the victim’s own family.iv And in the 12 years since the initiation of the first Megan’s Law, no empirical data has been demonstrated showing a slowing in the rate of sexual offenses nationwide.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) devotes 45 pages to psycho-sexual behaviors.v Many of these behaviors carry criminal liability. Yet for no other classification of psychosis is the patient’s right to medical privacy abrogated by publication on a global registry. Citizens who would sue for HIPAA violations if an employer questioned their medical appointments do not scruple to Web-cast the bitter details of mental illness to which a offender’s behavior may be ascribed. The saddest part of this debacle is that many of these psycho-sexual disorders are attributable to the offender having been him or herself victimized during childhood. Because society failed in protecting them, they become as they are. Before sinning, they were first sinned against.
But rational response is lost in the socially-acceptable demonizing of an entire segment of the human population. At least one locality is already considering a “sexual offenders only” zone, a restricted area which would be the only residential option for released offenders. Sadly, it will not be difficult to find a name for such a zone; the names already exist, branded by shame into the pages of history: The Warsaw Ghetto. Manzanar. Auschwitz. Tule Lake. Dachau. The public parks of Plainfield could, perhaps, locate some antique signs, much like those illustrated in the Anne Frank section of the Children’s Museum: “Nein Juden”. It will only be necessary to cross out one word.
Louder voices have begun calling for the establishment of other registries for every type of crime, violent or otherwise. No longer need the public be burdened by the notion that those who have paid their debt to society by imprisonment and fines, or begun to recover sanity through therapy and medication, dare walk among us again as though human, or entitled to the same governmental protections as other citizens. Marked by the pink triangle of the registries, they will be separated from society in residency requirements, job opportunities and civil rights: separate, and in all ways unequal.
It is doubtful that Hitler could have persuaded the German people to conspire in the wholesale extermination of Jews, gypsies, and the mentally ill had he not first paved the way by disenfranchising and demonizing an entire class of human beings. Just as constant exposure to violence desensitizes an individual to brutality, vilifying a complete segment of humanity in the name of safety promises that the public will not long protest harsher measures directed to ever-increasing groups.
By following Hitler’s example, state, federal and local governments and the media have set their feet firmly onto the path ground to dust beneath the heels of Nazi boots. Or, to paraphrase Franklin, we the people who choose safety over the civil rights of the full populace will likely soon have neither.
i Houghton Miflin, New York: Hutchinson Publ. Ltd., London, 1943 Page 403
ii National Center on Institutions and Alternatives, Inc. Blatimore, Maryland 21244 January, 2006 “Sex Offenses: Facts, Fictions and Policy Implications”
iii“Sex Offender Treatment Works” February 20, 2005 Crime Policy
iv Child Sexual Abuse I: An Overview [url=http://www.advocates]http://www.advocates[/url] for youth.org/PUBLICATIONS/factsheet/fsabuse2.htm
v American Pyschiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Washington, DC American Psychiatric Association, 1994, Pages 493 -538
Monday, May 18, 2009
"I'm sure I'm going to piss a few people off this this, but my question would simply be "Why do you choose to live here in these conditions?" I would then further elaborate that they have the choice to fight, and I mean fight. If you are ran out of your home then fight. If you are persecuted then fight. If you are ripped from your family, then fight. Either fight for yourself or fight for your family or fight out of principal. I hear more and more people being exiled under the bridge, yet I hear only a vague few voices ever saying anything. This is what the hell is wrong with sex offenders...th ey take it, roll over and let the man stomp their testicles some more. For shits sake, back in the day people fought, they protested, they did what it took to ensure their freedoms were there, what happened since then. If old Paul Revere hadn't said, "You know, screw them Brits, I'm in the fight" and cowered somewhere, how different or war for independence could have turned out. What if Jefferson had bowed out of writing the constitution because he was afraid of the crown? We'd still be a English colony today. So those men, persecuted, punished, beaten, stood up and fought for independence and freedom, why can't sex offenders?!?
And this is the question I ask Florida Government: "Who the hell are you to extinguish the freedoms of American men and women and spit on the blood my family split on foreign lands to protect that freedom?"
If these fascist pigs want a fight, we should be ready to give them one. What does that say about us when we allow these travesties to occur in the first place. How unpatriotic are we that we would sit and cower because we refuse to stand in fight, to refuse to rock the boat. Are we that weak, that much of cowards that we would prefer to allow our freedoms, our liberties to be taken away than to fight?
Ask yourself that question, see what the answer really is. No bullshit cognitive distorting, no victimizing, be honest with yourself and see what answer lies there!"
written by Blackrouge, used with permission
Friday, May 15, 2009
Today was the official launch of Maine Citizens For Change. As the State Coordinator I attended the Judicial committee's work session in Augusta. The bills were LD 385 regarding Residency Restrictions and LD 1157 had a provision allowing RSOs a way to get off the Registry ...
HP 292, LD 385 An Act To Ensure a Uniform Comprehensive State Policy Regarding Residency Restrictions for Sex Offenders May 15, 2009, 1000AM Room 436 State House
SP 429, LD 1157 An Act To Improve the Use of Information Regarding Sex Offenders May 15, 2009, 1000AM Room 436 State House
While there I spoke with several Legislators on the committee, people from other agencies and recruited two new members. One lady was a mom I meet the last time we went to Augusta who spoke up on her son's situation. The other woman was the wife of someone who is not yet on the registry but is facing the possibility. We had a great discussion and exchanged our stories and had many ideas on pursuing this fight. I feel it was a good day and that I was able to make some important contacts.
LD 385 was passed to be voted on with 3 amendments. The amendments were the result of a work session between Kate Dufour, Maine Municipality Association, Elizabeth Saxl from ME CASA, and Denise Lord ME DOC. Denise Lord presented their compromises. First that the residency restrictions would apply to only municipally owned properties were children gather such as schools and parks. Second that towns could not pass other restrictions other then residency. And thirdly that limits could be no greater then 1000 feet. Towns would not have to pass residency restrictions but could choose to if they wanted them, but they could be no tougher then the State limits. Also all RSOs currently living in restricted zones would be grandfathered in. There was debate over the wording and how large the zone would be. After lunch it was agreed to make the zone only 750 feet and that private schools would also be included. These restrictions would apply to people charged with a sex offense with a child under 14. There was one dissenting voice for reason. The Chair person of the Judiciary committee Senator Gerzofsky, he wanted the bill to stand as written with no amendments. He stated "There is no proof that residency restrictions do anything to enhance or improve public safety. That anyone could get in a car and drive anywhere. He felt the safest place for an RSO to live is right in the center of town across for the Police Station as well as a school. That way everyone would know and be watching. That the desire for these laws is driven by media hysteria." This quote is somewhat paraphrased but true to the spirit of his speech. The vote was passed with only two dissenting votes, Senator Gerzofsky and Senator Davis.
Lastly, amendments to LD 1157 were discussed. The sticking point was over whether someone when someone would be returned to the registry after getting off it. The wording was amended to say and class A,B or C crime would return a person to the list. The bill was passed.
Anyone wanting to join or get more information about Maine Citizens For Change can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org