Friday, March 27, 2009
By Corey Yung
In 1971, Richard Nixon declared the War on Drugs in America. However, the laws enabling that criminal war had been enacted years before Nixon’s speech officially recognized the new conflict. By 1968, Lyndon Johnson had established the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (the predecessor organization to the Drug Enforcement Agency) to lead the charge against domestic drug use and distribution. The next year, efforts to limit drug smuggling along the Mexican border culminated in Operation Intercept which nearly closed the border entirely. When Nixon took over the Presidency, he signed into law the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act which established the categorization system for regulating narcotics. Perhaps the clearest sign that something was afoot even before Nixon’s speech was that the anti-drug-war group, The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (“NORML”), was founded to counter the shifting policy priorities of the criminal justice system. By the time of the official declaration, the War on Drugs was already underway.
So, when did the "war" actually start? In an era when foreign wars are not even truly "declared" anymore, perhaps it is not surprising to think that a criminal war might be underway without a specific statement from the federal government. In a paper I have been working on for a while that I will be presenting at the Law & Society Conference, I contend that a criminal war on sex offenders may have already begun. We are, thus, in a period like that in the late 60's and early 70's wherein the conflict has started even if the government has not yet acknowledged it.
In reviewing America's history of criminal wars, I have identified three major characteristics of those conflicts. The first two are essential prerequisites for the war to begin and the third is a sign that it is underway. First, there must be a substantial campaign of myth creation. For the war on drugs, movies like Reefer Madness embodied the misinformation that was propagated to support government policy against drugs. In regards to the nascent war on sex offenders, there are already developed myths of the prevalence of stranger rape, of child molesters lurking in the bushes, that offenders cannot be "cured" based upon faulty recidivism statistics, and of the collective nature of the class "sex offenders." Second, there must be a significant marshalling of resources in proportion to the perceived threat. For sex offenders, policy innovation has created an environment at the federal, state, and local levels whereby offenders have a significant weight upon them. Lifetime registration, residency restrictions, civil commitment, lifetime real-time GPS monitoring, castration, community notification, and work restrictions are just a few of the policies that have targeted sex offenders. The treatment of offenders seems out of proportion given that previously convicted and released sex offenders are only responsible for a small portion of sex crimes. However, the marshalling of resources is still incomplete. The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, the most significant piece of federal sex offender legislation, has not been fully funded to enforce its various provisions. Perhaps with the economic downturn and a new administration, the focus of criminal justice resources on sex offenders might yet dissipate.
Third, and importantly for non-sex offenders, an inevitable result of criminal wars is exception-making to various protected rights. The drug war has arguably limited the rights protected under the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, Fourteenth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments. Further, federal authority has expanded well beyond the previous reaches of the Commerce Clause. These "exceptions" to prior doctrine have had long-term implications outside of the drug war. Similarly, the war on sex offenders through registration laws has limited due process rights, changed Ex Post Facto doctrine, and further expanded the federal reach under the Commerce Clause. Residency restrictions have revived banishment as punishment in a way that is detrimental to basic aspects of American democracy. Other punishments have already curtailed First, Fifth, Fourteenth and Sixth Amendment protections.
So, based upon those criteria, I think a strong case that a war on sex offenders has already begun. There is a chance that through court decisions, state noncompliance with the Adam Walsh Act, or failure to fully fund the various sex offender laws, that the war could falter. However, based upon the politics of crime, it seems likely that America has started a new war on the criminal front.
There's no full text for this bill yet, but from the brief description of it, I would think that if it passes and becomes law, sex offenders will have an even harder time getting hired anywhere! You can click here to subscribe to Introduced bills using your RSS reader.
And what about Ron Book? Who runs the homeless shelters and such!
By MATT SEDENSKY - Associated Press Writer
MIAMI - A sandy shoreline runs outside _____'s front door. A white crane toes through gentle blue-green waters as the sun beams overhead. The view of downtown is spectacular, the fishing good and the rent free.
Yet he'd give it all up for a bed in a warehouse.
_____ is among 52 sex offenders living under a busy bridge over Biscayne Bay that connects Miami to Miami Beach. The state insisted two years ago it would urge them to leave, but the community has only grown.
It has become a makeshift town of parolees and others who struggle to find affordable housing that doesn't violate strict local ordinances against sex offenders living too close to schools, parks and other places children congregate.
In the angled area where the bridge meets a concrete slope, residents have put up domed tents, a shack housing a makeshift kitchen, a camper, even a weight bench. They've spray painted the slope and the pillars supporting the bridge: "We 'R' Not Monsters." "They Treat Animals Better!!!" "Why?"
"They throw us under here and just hope that we can do something ourselves," said 47-year-old _____, standing in the doorway to a small shack made of collected wood scraps. "If I was a murderer, they would help me, they would find me a home, they would find me a job."
The community started in 2007 with a few men camping out beneath the Julia Tuttle Causeway, the result of rules strengthened in Miami-Dade County two years earlier and a bevy of overlapping local ordinances. A year later, there were 19, and the state vowed it would help them find housing. That never happened, and more kept arriving.
Jo Ellyn Rackleff, a spokeswoman for the Florida Corrections Department, acknowledges the problems with the arrangement.
"We have talked to them, they demonstrate that they're looking, but they just haven't been able to find anything. There's so many restrictions in that area of Florida," she said. "It's just a situation that's unsolvable at this point."
- No, it's solvable, you just don't want to admit it!
Once entered in the sex offender registry, a person typically stays for life. In Miami-Dade County, such people must live at least 2,500 feet from places children gather, making only a handful of areas - generally out of an offender's price range - possible homes. The county's rules governing its 1,030 registered sex offenders are considered among the state's most restrictive.
Many offenders have family or friends who would house them but can't because they live too close to a school or playground or bus stop.
The state says offenders found the bridge because it was among the few covered places in compliance with the local ordinances. Officials say probation officers haven't suggested it outright, though some residents dispute that. Either way, it has become one of the only solutions.
- And the state is the ones who created the laws, thus creating this nightmare. There is tons of articles that prove the probation departments are telling them they need to live here.
"Sometimes when a probation officer is helping somebody to look for a place to live and they're not having any luck and the probation officer is required to know where a person is every night, they may suggest that there is a place where they can check on them," Rackleff said.
Politicians are often reluctant to touch such an issue, as there is little public compassion for those who molest children or rape women, though many sex offenders at the Tuttle and elsewhere have committed lesser offenses.
The Miami chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is studying the issue before deciding how to push for a change to the rules in Miami-Dade County and its municipalities.
"They have been given absolutely no hope or no recourse to change the situation," said chapter president Carlene Sawyer, who can see the causeway from her office and can't help thinking of the people living underneath it when a storm rolls in.
"This is un-American," she said.
Many of the residents work. On a recent afternoon, some were fishing. At night, they watch TVs powered by a generator and play dominoes and cards. Leaders have emerged in the community, and while parole officers visit, offenders mostly police themselves.
The air is tinged with sea salt, and the cars never stop passing overhead, yet perfect Atlantic waters make it strangely serene. Residents have even seen dolphins and manatees near the shore.
_____ sleeps in a tiny shack with two TVs, a CD player, microwave and a night stand made of a black plastic milk crate that holds an ashtray and a can of Miller High Life. He was found guilty of lewd or lascivious molestation of a minor, a crime he claims he didn't commit.
He says the state offers him and his neighbors no help and that more people keep coming here, unable to find anyplace else. He wonders why the state can't arrange for them to live in a warehouse - anything better than this. Asked if there's anything good about his situation, he thinks for a moment before replying.
"I got a good view," he said. "That's about it."
View the article here
So that means, all those Perverted-Justice folks, and other vigilantes, could be slammed with child porn, since they frequent those sites (I believe), to look for so called pedophiles.
If you merely click on a link that's purporting to send you to stash of X-rated kiddie pics, should you be held criminally liable for child porn? The FBI says yes. And so do the courts they've got to OK this sort of thing.
Call it entrapment or just innovative investigative work for the Web 2.0 era. But here's what the FBI is doing: Setting up fake websites made to look like child porn troves, then recording the IP address and other identifying info of anyone who even happens upon the site. Click a link and end up on a government-sponsored (alebit fake) child porn site? You could be arrested and thrown in with the To Catch A Predator crowd.
Federal law doesn't just declare downloading child porn a crime, but the mere attempt at doing so. (Penalty? Up to 10 years in prison.)
That the FBI is devoting resources to catching sickos who prey on children is admirable. But the overarching implications of this practice are, frankly, frightening. How come? Because even your Catholic grandmother, who only uses the computer to check her email for photos of her grandkids, could be lobbed into this by accident. Or, as the FBI would argue, only human stains intent on downloading child porn would bother clicking on such a link.
The implications of the FBI's hyperlink-enticement technique are sweeping. Using the same logic and legal arguments, federal agents could send unsolicited e-mail messages to millions of Americans advertising illegal narcotics or child pornography–and raid people who click on the links embedded in the spam messages. The bureau could register the "unlawfulimages.com" domain name and prosecute intentional visitors. And so on.
[...] While it might seem that merely clicking on a link wouldn't be enough to justify a search warrant, courts have ruled otherwise. On March 6, U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt in Nevada agreed with a magistrate judge that the hyperlink-sting operation constituted sufficient probable cause to justify giving the FBI its search warrant.
[...] So far, at least, attorneys defending the hyperlink-sting cases do not appear to have raised unlawful entrapment as a defense.
"Claims of entrapment have been made in similar cases, but usually do not get very far," said Stephen Saltzburg, a professor at George Washington University's law school. "The individuals who chose to log into the FBI sites appear to have had no pressure put upon them by the government…It is doubtful that the individuals could claim the government made them do something they weren't predisposed to doing or that the government overreached."
The outcome may be different, Saltzburg said, if the FBI had tried to encourage people to click on the link by including misleading statements suggesting the videos were legal or approved.
Child porn laws were created as a safety measure: By criminalizing the action (disgusting adults downloading and producing explicit pictures and videos), legislators hoped to minimize the harm (forcing children to pose naked or engage in sexual activities). But what about CGI-generated child porn? No real children are harmed there, but it's likely you've got the same crop of sickos downloading and creating the fake stuff. And now with child porn links, there's no chance of actual child endangerment — the FBI's links and sites contain no actual child porn — so the folks clicking on to these sites do not actually harm children with that act alone. So should they be tossed in jail for it?
The brutally intimate documentary Tyson examines the sad, soulful mind of the former champ. Jaime Lowe talks to director James Toback about Iron Mike’s inner philosopher and descent into madness.
James Toback carries himself like a plump doctoral candidate in philosophy, lecturing and debating the sins of flesh. He’s a director known as much for his eccentric personality as his work (Fingers, Two Guys and a Girl, Bugsy, Black and White), who revels in depravity and pontificates about sex at length, including what he calls his “black, orgiastic” years when he roomed with football legend Jim Brown. It’s not surprising then, that Mike Tyson—former heavyweight champion, sex offender, drug abuser, paparazzi attacker—is an obsession, and the subject of Toback’s first documentary Tyson, which premiered at Cannes last May and will appear in theaters April 24.
Tyson implies that there's no way he raped Desiree Washington. His reasoning: He’s raped before and knows the difference. You have to wonder: accidental slip, or calculated confession?
Despite the taint of violence that trails Tyson, there’s a sad desperation in Toback’s portrayal, an honest acknowledgement of the tragic figure that Tyson has become now that he’s without his hundreds of millions of dollars, his white tigers, his wives, and his ability to fight. Tyson isn't a traditional documentary; most noticeably, there are no secondary interviews. It is simply a portrait: shots of Tyson speaking intercut with early training footage. "This is who he is," Toback says from an oceanfront hotel suite in Los Angeles, surrounded by plates of shrimp. "He's being presented in as complete and truthful way as a human can be presented in film."
Over the years Mike Tyson has popped up in Toback's films, most memorably in an improvised scene for 1999’s Black and White, in which Tyson slapped and then choked Robert Downey Jr. after Downey’s character flirted with him. When Brooke Shields takes her turn hitting on Tyson, the boxer says, “You’re not dealing with an animal. This is not a study of animals.” He may as well have been addressing his public.
"He trusts me," Toback says of the fighter, now a softer, saggy 42. "His managers told me there's nobody else he'd do this kind of movie with. I'm not gonna violate that trust."
In the opening scene, Tyson sits on a white couch in an airy, nondescript Malibu living room and speaks softly of his life. He is confessional, contemplative, quiet. He talks about his headline life (jail, rape, divorce, addiction, ear-biting, baby eating, boxing) and what he hopes to be a more private future (drug rehab, a wish to be “a grandpa”).
"I think he's a very complex and obsessive thinker," Toback says. "His mind is always going and he likes having that observed. This is the first chance he's had to do that on his own terms, not when he's being prompted to sell tickets for a fight or to get publicity." And yet this movie is the ultimate form of publicity, an unexpected look at a self-reflective Tyson, a thinker rather than a fighter. His only hope of emerging from rehab and bankruptcy a changed man is to convince the public that there’s value in the man who remains.
Toback first met Tyson 23 years ago while he was filming The Pick-Up Artist in New York. In an absurd confluence of celebrity, Anthony Michael Hall brought Tyson to meet Molly Ringwald, Warren Beatty, Robert Downey Jr., and then-presidential hopeful Gary Hart, who was hoping for Tyson's support to garner the black vote. Tyson and Toback ended up in the director's trailer talking madness. "Mike was very intrigued by my LSD flip out [at Harvard] which he had heard about from Jim Brown.”
“I told him, 'The only way you can know what madness is, is to experience it and that I would only wish it on the people I truly loathe.' Years later, after he got out of prison, he told me, 'When I was in solitary one night lying on the concrete in my cell, I thought, now I know what Toback meant.'"
Toback allowed just five crew members to be present in the room during filming of Tyson and the resulting footage is almost disturbing in its intimacy; it gives the appearance that the boxer is talking to his therapist. In one cut of the film, while discussing Desiree Washington (the beauty contestant whom he was convicted of raping), the fighter implies that there's no way he raped Washington. His reasoning: He’s raped before and knows the difference. You have to wonder: accidental slip, or calculated confession?
Tyson, as sad as it is, is a film about redemption; it is a film about a broken man coming to terms with his flailing public identity. Toback finds hope in Tyson’s tragic figure (he’s better off broke than being robbed blind by boxing promoters) but there isn’t a clear answer as to what comes next. "People were attracted to the kind of fighter he was,” he says, but it’s clear that Toback is presenting both Tyson’s ferocity and what “makes Mike human." And that, if nothing else, is what Toback wants the world to see: Mike Tyson, human.
- And they do, because of who he is, but the many others who are on the sex offender registry, for less even, are seen as animals, because they are not rich and famous, like Mike was.)
Jaime Lowe is the author of Digging for Dirt: The Life and Death of ODB (Faber & Faber). Her writing has appeared in the Village Voice, Interview, Radar, Penthouse and Sports Illustrated. She is the tunnels correspondent for infrastructurist.com and lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Another cop, another double standard. Like they are going to be able to enforce this!
A former Mishawaka police officer has gotten a unique sentence after being convicted of patronizing a prostitute.
Fifty-three-year-old Paul Maribela was caught during an undercover sting, as he tried to solicit sex from an officer posing as a prostitute.
He was sentenced Wednesday to home detention and probation, but he was also barred for nine months from visiting places that are frequented by prostitutes.
That includes areas of South Main Street and Marion Street in Elkhart, Mishawaka Avenue in Mishawaka and parts of Michigan Street, Western Avenue, and Lincolnway West in South Bend.
- Wow, so now everyone knows where to go to pick up a prostitute!
Maribela is also prohibited from strip clubs and adult book stores.
He also cannot visit Lake County or North Webster.
No I do not think young kids doing this, nor those experimenting with sex and just being kids, should be labeled a sex offender and potentially their lives ruined before they start. But, if they are able to be charged with a sex crime and labeled a child molester, then why not for producing and distributing child porn? Maybe when a lot of kids are caught up in this mess, then the legislature will see the mess they have created! Just look at the tons of articles here.
A 14-year-old North Jersey girl posted more than two dozen naked photos of herself on MySpace, violating child-porn laws, authorities said.
And although police haven't said so yet, there's a possibility she could have to register as a Megan's Law offender, depending on how things play out.
The Clifton youngster was released to her mother's custody pending a Family Court hearing on complaints of possessing and distributing kiddie porn.
Let's hope this case follows a mature, adult course and not a vindictive, childish one.
Although such serious crimes are ordinarily associated with adults, authorities have been finding more minors "producing" child porn through their cellphones and computers. And adults are scrambling to keep up.
In many cases, the youngsters are doing it for far less creepy reasons than adults. In this case, the girl told investigators she put the shots into a photo album for her boyfriend. Detectives with the Passaic County Sheriff’s Department were contacted by representatives of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children after they spotted the photos on a MySpace profile.
So how does society deal with the evolving situation?
Think about it: This kid's 14. She's not peddling porn. Far from it: She's trying to impress her boyfriend. At her age, she's too young to grasp long-term consequences. Instead, she's exploring a curiosity.
Puritanicals will be so upset that they'll call for sanctions against her. Maybe keep her off any school teams or require public service -- or put her in a detention center -- ensuring that she's scarred for life.
Some of us, meanwhile, will express disappointment at the poor judgment of an extremely young child who may have thought there wasn't a problem and simply didn't know better. In the long run, perhaps a level-headed representative in Trenton tweaks the law to specifically address such situations.
For now, I hope she's already learned from it -- having been interviewed and processed by authorities and (worse) made an object lesson at her school.
The good news is that the case will be handled confidentially by a Family Court judge, who can pretty much determine the course of the girl's future.
Of course, as happens every time with one of these stories, there's also the possibility that more parents who learn of these behaviors get involved in their kids' lives, even if it means a little sitdown to go over the potential ramifications of what may have at first seemed a little joke.
One word of warning, though: Before you do that, think back to some of the stuff you did at 14, 15 or 16.
How did you turn out?
By RANDY MCILWAIN
At her kitchen table, with a few moments between being a mother to two young boys, 20-year-old Rachel Marquez cracks open her criminal justice text book to prepare for an exam at Garland's Remington College.
As it turns out, life is giving Marquez plenty of lessons lately on injustice.
"I'm very upset, because it's on my character," said Marquez, trying to articulate her outrage at being publically labled a sex offender.
Recently Marquez's search for an apartment led to the astonishing revelation.
"I got denied," said Marquez. "They looked at my criminal background record and said I was a sex offender."
Marquez logged on to the first computer she could find.
"Sure enough it's on there," said Marquez.
Her birthdate, height and weight were all on the Texas Department of Public Safety's sex offender registry for the world to see. Along with that, a photo of Marquez at 13, taken after a 2002 arrest for trespassing in the city of The Colony when she was in middle school.
The Colony Police Department confirms Marquez's juvenile arrest but said that she was neither charged or convicted of any type of sexual offense.
The chief said that his department forwarded no information regarding Marquez to the Texas Department of Public Safety for any reason and that the department is puzzled as to how her picture and personal information got into the state's sex offender registry.
"I'm like, 'Why me?'" said Marquez. "Why of all people did this have to happen to me?"
Marquez has yet to get an answer. A spokesperson for the Texas Department of Public Safety said that all information on the sex offender registry is forwarded to Austin from local municipalities. An investigation is ongoing to determine how the registry got Marquez's information and how long her information appeared there.
Marquez is convinced that just as the background check identified her as a sex offender and nearly cost her an apartment, it may have also cost a job.
Detectives with Dallas' Police Department ultimately investigated at Marquez's urging and got the state to remove her name from the registry.
Marquez has her apartment, but now she'd like some peace of mind and answers as to how her name got on the registry, when it got there, and what could possibly be in store for her next.
"It's going to take a while for me to just forget about it," said Marquez. "It's always going to be on my mind, forever."
By DAN WARNER
Rule to restrict where they live
Lee County's new law restricting the movement of sex offenders received the full spectrum of reaction Thursday, with one civil libertarian calling it "thoughtful" and a public defender labeling it "kind of silly."
The praise, which he acknowledged "will probably come as a surprise to the commissioners," was from Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida.
Simon fears that community laws will restrict where offenders can live, not just where they hang out.
Lee's new law makes it illegal for a sex offender to hang around within 300 feet of day care centers, school bus stops, video arcades, zoos, amusement parks, schools, parks and other places where children regularly congregate.
It is a major restriction. There are, for example, 112 schools and 7,200 school bus stops in Lee County - just some of the places sex offenders must avoid.
"There are school bus stops all over the county," said Lee County ACLU President John Szymonik.
"This pretty much bans them from being in public."
Public defender Richard Donnelly agreed.
"You might as well pass an ordinance saying a sex offender can't live in Lee County," said Donnelly, who is often called upon to defend sex offenders the state wants to keep confined as sexually violent predators after they have completed their original prison sentence.
Saying he doesn't like sex offenders and acknowledging some law is necessary, Donnelly questions why Lee County's laws needs to be different from those in the rest of the state and how the 300-foot restriction was chosen.
He maintains that the Legislature, "with expert testimony, committee hearings and studies," is more qualified to make decisions regarding sex offenders than the county commissioners.
Lee's ordinance was passed unanimously and at the behest of Sheriff Mike Scott in a commission meeting Tuesday. There was no discussion at the meeting.
"Why does the sheriff all of a sudden pull out of his left ear that 300 feet is what we should have?" Donnelly asked rhetorically.
"The sad part about this whole thing is these people who make these laws are not in a position to pass a judgment of whether they are reasonable or necessary.''
He said such local laws "usually turn out to be very goofy."
He pointed out that school bus stops "change from month to month and year to year."
Sheriff Scott declined to discuss the issue, instead issuing a statement saying the ordinance merely follows his pattern of being tough on sex offenders.
The ACLU's Simon was pleased the commissioners did not tighten restrictions on where offenders can live, leaving the limit at the state mandated 1,000 feet from schools and other public facilities that cater to children.
"Unlike too many communities in Florida, this ordinance does not contribute to creating a class of homeless sex offenders, which has only made things more dangerous," he said.
Simon was speaking of a restriction in the Miami area, where a limit of 2,500 feet from child gathering areas has created a situation where there are so few places where a sex offender can live that 80 to 100 of them are living under bridges.
He said his one concern about Lee's new law is how it is enforced: he worries that authorities will stop people in the forbidden zones and ask them what they are doing.
"The devil will be in the details," he said.
"I just hope the police don't end up hassling every adult in those areas who pass through on perfectly legitimate business."
The new law specifically allows offenders to pass through the zones on their way to and from various destinations and excludes their homes from any restrictions beyond the state law.
Local ACLU President Szymonik declined to comment on this specific ordinance, saying the ACLU is concentrating on residency issues for sex offenders.
It is pointless to fight such an ordinance, he indicated.
"There hasn't been one successful challenge to this sort of ordinance anywhere in the country," he said.
- Because the corrupt government continues to pass unconstitutional laws, and the Constitution means absolutely nothing anymore.
It is hard to protect the rights of sex offenders, he and Donnelly agreed, because nobody wants to be seen as being on their side.
- Yeah, and because they don't want to uphold the Constitution and people's right!
"Everyone just has a stigma about being someone who is sticking up for sex offenders," said Szymonik.