Wednesday, March 28, 2012

women against registry

Found this organization today. 

Women Against Registry gives a voice to the hundreds of thousands of innocent women and children who are being wrongly and unfairly punished because we have a family member who has been convicted of a sexual offense.  
We intend to provide clear and convincing evidence that America's excessive, unconscionable sexual offense registries are tearing our nation's families apart, making our communities less safe, violating our constitution, and wasting our tax dollars. 
Great goals! I love the focus on the other people who are injured by the sex offender registry laws.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

where to go for help with an addiction to child porn?

Think about the position of someone addicted to child porn. He can't be online without that itch to see what's out there, to see if he can track down illegal images. He knows he could be caught; he almost certainly knows that he is wrong to look at them. He knows what people would say if they knew what he did with his time online.

The guilt and shame of his secret activities must be painful. I do not believe that most men (usually men, though not always) enjoy the guilt and shame, nor do they enjoy being in the grip of an addiction so abhorred. 

Alcoholics and drug addicts can go to AA or to treatment programs. In fact, once they decide to get treatment, family and friends are usually behind them, encouraging them to change their lives in a positive way! Not so for a child porn addict.

Where would a child porn addict go for help? The habit is not only shameful, it is illegal. He is a criminal. Going for help could result in his getting turned in to law enforcement by the minister, the counselor, the friend next door. We all know that crimes against children are to be reported immediately; we know that if we don't do that, we can be in trouble ourselves. Just ask the Catholic church how it went for them when they did not turn in priests accused of sexual abuse of children. 

I have asked several counselors whether a child porn addict could go for help for his addiction without getting turned in. Every single one of them answered that it was doubtful.

I wouldn't wish any kind of addiction on anyone but at least the druggies and drunks can go for help without worry that they will end up in prison for their addiction.

Because possessing and/or downloading child porn is illegal, it is difficult to get help to break the addiction. Until it is possible for child porn addicts to get help without the risk of being turned in, we will be imprisoning people who would have stopped long ago if only they could have found help.

Monday, March 26, 2012

protect the children

I know nothing about this case except for what is in the Huffington Post article. A man possessed child porn images and was sentenced to 111 years in prison, a sentence that was reduced to four years plus 12 years probation. The part that caught my eye:
While under probation, [this man] will not be able to visit any child under 18 without supervision, except with his three underage children...
This man has three underage children. Those children will not only have to grow up without their dad, they will have to endure whatever strange comments and judgments come to them about their father and about their family. All because he had pictures sick, criminal adults took of children. Pictures. He isn't accused of touching any children sexually. He had pictures. Pictures he should not have had, and he knew that. Pictures that would make nearly everyone else sick to look at, but only pictures nonetheless.

I know someone thinks they saved this man's children from whatever dastardly deeds he had in store--or perhaps someone thinks that man surely did more than the cops were able to prove. Too bad. In this country, we put people in prison for crimes we can prove they committed, not for those we fear they might commit. Or do we?

Laws against child porn are on the books to protect the children. Who is protecting this man's children? Law enforcement? Hardly. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

trustworthy? No.

Do you know that after law enforcement serves a search warrant, they aren't required to let you know whether they are going to press charges or not? We have been waiting for months and months, at first assuming that they would bring charges, and now wondering if they simply didn't find what they were looking for. It has been over nine months and we've heard nothing.

Our attorney tells us that there is no statute of limitations for this crime, so the prosecution could bring charges at any time...forever. They can simply hold our computers forever, with no need to tell us anything. So, they have our financial records, our family photos, and anything else we stored on computer. I have no confidence that they will keep track of our computers or our files; I have no confidence that they will treat the information found on the computers in a secure manner.

But it's law enforcement! They have rules to follow! I should trust them to treat our digital belongings with every care!

Remember this: The one thing I know for sure about these ICE agents is that they invaded my home with drawn guns. Everything else is just guessing.

Friday, March 23, 2012

send this book to your legislators!

Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow is an important book; more people should read it. At first, I was a bit put off by her assertion that mass incarceration is a method of keeping black people under control (as the Jim Crow laws were used) but there is much more to the book than that.

The facts are indisputable: the War on Drugs has affected black men disproportionately. While drug use is fairly evenly distributed across races, black men have borne the bigger burden of searches, prosecution and imprisonment. The War on Drugs has been a pointless exercise. Has it diminished the number of illegal drug users? Nope. Has it stopped drug-related crime? Nope. Prohibition has taught us nothing, evidently.

Her remedies include decriminalizing drugs and making drug treatment programs more easily available. I agree. She is eager to lay part of that on the government--the government should provide drug treatment programs--but I would rather leave that to the private sector. Putting the government in charge of these programs is a sure path to corruption. Not exactly the best environment for addicts who are hoping to live a better life.

Without the huge number of drug convictions populating our prisons, what will happen to the huge number of people who depend on prisons for their livelihood? Prison guards and administrators, investors in private prisons, law enforcement agencies (among others) will fight to keep their position, arguing against decriminalization. It is likely that another source of criminals will be found to keep these people employed and to keep the federal money flowing to law enforcement agencies.

Any idea which criminals are an easy pick and likely to fill the breach?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Law enforcement agencies operate websites with the intention of luring people who want access to illegal images. 
Since [this man] had “previously demonstrated an interest in obtaining child pornographic materials online,” he was tabbed to receive an unsolicited e-mail from an agent touting the undercover FBI web site. 
The website was designed to appeal to this particular interest, and to encourage someone to click the links.

How is this not entrapment? If the man had no way to find the website without an invitation from the FBI, then the FBI is the reason he tried to download child porn.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

does a town of 23,000 need a tank for its police force?

This is how the Department of Homeland Security spends money.

Since the 1990s, the Pentagon has made military equipment available to local police departments for free or at steep discounts. This, along with drug war-related policies, has spurred a trend toward a more militarized domestic police force in America. Law enforcement and elected officials have argued for years that better-armed, high-powered police departments are needed to fight the war on drugs.
Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the war on terror has accelerated the trend toward militarization. Homeland Security hands out anti-terrorism grants to cities and towns, many specifically to buy military-grade equipment from companies like Lenco. In December, the Center for Investigative Reporting reported that Homeland Security grants totalled $34 billion, and went to such unlikely terrorism targets as Fargo, N.D.; Fon du Lac, Wisc.; and Canyon County, Idaho. The report noted that because of the grants, defense contractors that long served the Pentagon exclusively have increasingly turned looked to police departments, hoping to tap a "homeland security market" expected to reach $19 billion by 2014.

I suppose it is possible that a small town like Keene NH (or Fargo or any other town) could be the target of terrorists and when that happens, it would be nice if the town had a tank and a store of bazoooka and flame throwers to stop the terrorists. In the meantime, though, they have this Bearcat sitting there. Unused equipment bought with taxpayer money is not a happy discovery. Much better to use the equipment when possible.

This situation--Bearcat needing to be used--will inevitably lead to local police forces using too much force.

Hurray for the protesters in Keene, putting a stop to the purchase.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

who benefits from increase in incarcerations?

Politicians and prison guard unions go together like chicken and noodles. The unions like politicians who like to demonstrate that they are tough on crime. The politicians like the unions because they donate buckets of money to ensure legislators who are tough on crime.

Job security for prison guards is found in higher incarceration levels. 
Although California’s prison building boom began before the prison guards’ arrival as a political force, the union has been both a supporter and a beneficiary of that expansion. Of the state’s 33 prisons, 23 have been built since 1984.  
Twenty-three prisons built in California since 1984! Imagine how many new guards were hired in that time; imagine the increase in the amount of money in the union coffers, the amount of money the union could spend on political races.

An increase in successful prosecutions is necessary for the survival of prison guard unions. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Monday, March 12, 2012

pressure to plea bargain

Michelle Alexander puts forth an interesting idea: Instead of taking the plea bargain offered, go to court. Prosecutors like to pile on the charges so that the accused is looking at a horrific prison sentence, and then offer a plea bargain. Instead of risking the horrific sentence, the accused takes the "bargain," which might be an easier sentence but still means he is pleading guilty to a felony. Once a felon, always a felon. I heard someone else describe it as a life sentence,no matter how soon you get out of prison. When you are a felon, people don't want to hire you, they don't want to rent to you. You can't vote, serve on a jury, or own a gun.

Alexander says the majority of the accused take the plea bargain to avoid the risk they see in going to court. However, if enough said "no thanks" to the plea bargain, the court system would be overwhelmed by the number of trials. It is an interesting way to apply pressure in the effort to make changes in the system.

Alexander talks about drug cases because the majority of the growth in prison population is from drug convictions but all of this is true about child pornography convictions, as well. On top of the humiliation of leaving prison with that lifetime felony "sentence," those convicted of possession of child porn are given the additional lifetime sentence of the sex offender registry.

If you plead guilty to drug possession, you have a much better shot at hanging on to your friends and family while you are in prison than if you plead guilty to receiving child porn. People understand substance abuse but addiction to child porn--or even a passing interest--is something else entirely. Only a crazy person would confess to understanding how someone could develop an interest in child porn...because no one wants to be smeared with the taint of something so beyond the pale. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

my prayer

From the beginning, my prayer has been, "Dear Lord, protect my family." I do not pretend to understand prayer but when prayer is all I had to lean on, it became a nearly unconscious thrumming in my brain. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

changes in law enforcement

I'm reading The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. Heard an interview with the author on Fresh Air and decided to see how the War on Drugs is like the War on Porn. So far, very.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

fear of public opinion

Telling my story openly is out of the question. Telling it anonymously can be freeing but I fear what the reader thinks of me, of my family, of my husband. That fear is only a harbinger of what I will feel if charges are brought against my husband and we can no longer keep things quiet.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

divorce him? not on your life

The third response to my comment here:
Wow! That’s one BIG deal breaker for me. Don’t care how long I’ve been married, I’d divorce him in a second for having watched, and gone back for more, child porn. No excuse for that. Good luck to you and your kids.
First, thank you for your compassionate good wishes. Wishing the kids and me well means more than you know. I agree that there is "no excuse for that."

If you had asked me years ago what I would do if my husband were investigated for child porn, I would have said that I would divorce him. Easy. It is easy to know what you would do in a hypothetical situation. It is easy to know what you would do if you were married to a pervert like mine, especially when your husband is definitely not interested in illegal images. Now, turn and look at someone you love absolutely--your spouse, your child, your brother, your father. Imagine learning that he (it is usually a "he") is in trouble for child porn. Could you really turn your back on him? Just walk away and leave him to deal with it alone? I could not.

Many men consider, and some accomplish, suicide when they are in trouble for something so incredibly shameful. The guilt and shame is extremely difficult to bear. And you know what? They don't even need to be guilty of using child porn to feel that way. They need only to be accused. Walk away from the father of my children when he's desperate enough to consider suicide? What kind of monster would I be?

Walking away from the marriage would not have saved me the heartache, the worry, or the shame of being associated with such awful stuff. It would not have saved the kids from the terror, the confusion, the humiliation. The best way to protect the kids was to stay together. Our family is stronger together and we will be even stronger when we have gotten through this.

His interest in porn does not define him. Surely you know people who are good people, even if they have some pretty awful shortcomings. Many of us, for example, know alcoholics who are stellar beings--intelligent, loyal, loving--except for when they are drinking. It is the same with porn addicts. My husband is a wonderful husband and father. The porn is a very small piece of him.

If I had left him, I would have missed the joy of watching him tackle his porn addiction head-on. I would have missed seeing his determination to get out of bed every single day, do what he needed to do for our family every single day, even when doing so must have been excruciatingly painful. I would have missed watching his slow progress from suicidal despair to a confidence in his ability to be a better man. 

I wouldn't have missed that for anything.

Monday, March 5, 2012

how people respond (anonymously) to my story

After reading this, I posted a comment about how I am also not divorcing my husband and got three interesting responses. The first: 
If there wasn’t a demand for such pictures, in my opinion there wouldn’t be so many taken in the first place.
Do you think there is a demand for photos of flowers and sunsets? Dogs and cats? Cars? And is there a clamoring for us to post our photos on Shutterfly and Flickr? I do not think there needs to be a demand for someone to post their favorites where others can see them. Is there a demand to see what's under the exhibitionist's raincoat? And yet he shows us. 

The second:
What really pisses ME off is that not only are there people that abuse kids to get pics/video, but that there are sickos that get off on that.
I will agree that getting off on that is a sickness, though I do not believe it should be a crime. Is a prurient interest in murder scenes as bad as committing the murder? Do you know what the nice man next door fantasizes about? If he fantasizes about sex and children without looking at the images, he is not a criminal. As soon as he looks at images, he becomes a criminal. Is there a difference?

The third responder says she would divorce her husband immediately if she learned that he was into child porn. I'll save my response to that for another post.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

finding a defense attorney

When you need to find a defense attorney, you are already in trouble, already in a panic. It just isn't a good time to make such a momentous decision but there is no way around it. Fortunately for us, my husband was not arrested the day the ICE agents invaded our home to serve a search warrant so we could both work on finding the attorney.

An Internet search would have made it much easier because we may have been able to find something out there that gave us an idea about whether the attorney was any good. As it was, we had a phone book and no Internet. I remembered seeing a defense attorney on TV and I knew I would recognize his name if I saw it. I wandered through the yellow pages until I could remember his name. That is who we called.

He made time to see us briefly over lunch the same day. He introduced himself and asked my husband if he was thinking of suicide. I was relieved to hear him ask that first--it indicated that the attorney thought first about the person sitting across from him instead of the crime.

Since then, our attorney has answered all my questions. When I talk about possible defenses, he listens. He also does me the courtesy of giving it to me straight. He never condescends by pretending that I've come up with the magic formula that will result in our lives going back to what they were.

I hope we never have to find out in court exactly how good our decision was, though.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

running to starbucks

My earlier post about doing without Internet makes it sound as if it's not a big deal. That is true 90% of the time but the other 10% can be crazy-making. One night, both kids had homework that required use of the Internet and both kids had put off their homework until the night before it was due. The library closes at 8 p.m. so we ended up rushing over to Starbucks so they could finish their work. It feels wrong to go into Starbucks to use their wifi without buying something, so I got drinks for the kids. You know what? It is still cheaper to pay for a few lattes than it is to pay for Internet access at home, so--in my serene moments--I'm okay with the money going to Starbucks. Kids who leave their homework to the last minute, though, make me not-so-serene. Dealing with the extreme circumstances of a husband under investigation for something completely shameful can make the ordinary frustrations of procrastinating children difficult to manage gracefully.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

death toll of the war on drugs

The War on Drugs is a warning for everyone who thinks that a war on porn is a good idea.
"Increasingly, people are dying because of the tactics of the drug war. Military operations are being conducted on our soil, and collateral damage is inevitable.

"When drug task forces dressed in black batter in doors without knocking or announcing themselves, the danger to citizens and police alike is enormous. Sometimes the greatest danger is to (or from) the innocent citizen that understandably believes that they are experiencing a home invasion, and rushes to defend their family and property."
A dozen cops with guns drawn rushing into a home is bound to lead to misunderstandings, panic, and judgment errors. The police create the chaos and in many--I'd bet most--instances, they have no reason to prepare for violence. The majority of men arrested for possession of child porn have no history with law enforcement other than traffic tickets. Why do police fear violence with people like that?