Tuesday, January 31, 2012

what I face

I don't know. It won't be good.

securing the premises

When the ICE agents crowded into our home, I asked to see the search warrant. The response? "Not until we secure the premises, Ma'am."

Neither my husband nor I have any history with the legal system. There was no reason to assume that an armed invasion of our home was necessary or that the Kevlar vests were necessary for the agents. A minor investigation would have shown that my husband is home alone during the day when I am at work and the kids are in school. Stopping him on his way to the mailbox or while he was mowing the yard would have been another way to serve the search warrant.

The premises were secure before they came in. After they came in with their guns drawn, that's when security vanished. What if one of the kids had done something stupid to protect the dog? What if my husband or I had done something stupid because I thought it was a home invasion instead by hoodlums instead of a legitimate police operation? I do not remember seeing any identification but if they had shown it to me, how was I to know if it was real or not? I wouldn't have any way to know. The chaos created by the armed invasion--the shouting, the rushing everywhere...that is exactly what would lead to someone doing something foolish and getting shot in the process.

Monday, January 30, 2012

what he faces

Because it is a federal crime and because the federal statutes carry a mandatory minimum sentence for receipt of child porn, if he is convicted, he will be sentenced to at least five years in a federal prison. So, let's break all that down.

"It's a federal crime," as one of the cops told me in a tone intended to impress on me the seriousness of the matter.What makes it a federal crime? Because the feds were the ones tracking his IP (computer address). Not because his crime is especially awful, but because the local cops didn't find him first. His crime is the same as the guys sentenced to probation in country court. The same.

Mandatory minimum sentence. That means the judge has no opportunity to look at each case and decide a sentence based on an individual situation. A 19-year-old who received a naughty photo of his 16-year-old girlfriend? Mandatory minimum. Forty-year-old who spent too much time with online porn and downloaded a zip file that contained an underage surprise? Mandatory minimum. Legislators like to look tough on crime, and a mandatory minimum sounds tough. This happens all the time with drug possession cases, by the way.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

the beginning

It began eight months ago when police hammered at our door with a search warrant. It was before 6:30 a.m. and I had just come downstairs to bring in the newspaper and make breakfast before taking the kids to middle school. Oatmeal in the microwave, scrambled eggs on the stove, newspaper on the table, kids upstairs getting ready for the day, my retired husband still asleep.

The police yelling about a search warrant made no sense to me. Obviously, they had the wrong house. I opened the door and they pushed me back out of their way. I don't know how many officers there were. Too many. All wearing black jackets and--dear God--the first one through the door aimed his gun at our dog as she came growling toward the door. I threw myself toward her, shouting "Don't shoot the dog!"

As I held the dog back, I saw my daughter come down the stairs with her hands up. Bless her heart, she gave her usual eye-roll at the stupid adults. Her brother followed her with his hands up, trying to look his cool self.

I demanded to see the search warrant and was told they would show me as soon as they "secured the premises." I was aware that the police were everywhere in the house but I kept my eyes on the children. That is all I could think about. That and asking again and again to see the search warrant. After we were all gathered in the kitchen and the cops were satisfied that they were safe, I realized that my husband was there with us. He was quiet, not looking at anyone.

The police took me aside, showed me the warrant, told me the were looking for child porn. There was a roaring in my head. This made no sense. I said something like, "Okay, but you won't find any here." 

That is how it began. Chaos, shouting, frustration, guns. Fear and anger.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

are you like me?

My husband is under investigation for possession of child pornography. Our family has been dumped into the uncertainty of the legal system and the certainty of public humiliation. At the beginning, fear and anger were all I could feel. Fear of our family being damaged beyond help, anger at my helplessness. Thrown into the legal system, I have no control over what will happen.

Child pornography carries a special stigma in our society. Those who look at child porn are equated with those who sexually abuse children and record that abuse. Downloading and looking at the images is seen as so shameful that these people should be branded for life. In the zealous pursuit of safety for the children, families are destroyed. I want to speak for the families, for the children ignored in cases like this. Families and children like mine.

I hope others in my situation find this blog and find it helpful to know they are not alone. Only a few people around me know what is happening in my life. Telling others is scary, so I don't. I want this to be a safe place for others to talk about the confusion and helplessness, the fear and anger.