Saturday, April 28, 2012

who else looks at child porn?

In a child porn trial, the pornographic images will be shown. The jury needs to see that the images are indeed child porn, and the prosecution depends on the emotional response of the jury to the images. Child porn is shocking. Child porn is vile. The descriptions of images that I have read have made me sick. Showing a jury the images nearly guarantees a conviction. There is a reason for that 90%+ conviction rate in child porn receipt or possession cases, after all.

The investigators look at the images found, the prosecutor looks at the images. The defense attorney looks at the images. The jury looks at the images, the judge looks at the images, the probation officer looks. All this looking is legal because they all have legitimate reasons to look.

The offender, though...why does he look? Do we know? We assume that he looks for sexual reasons, and perhaps he even confessed to masturbating while looking. So courts prosecute people who look at the images for unknown, unacceptable reasons. The courts prosecute because of what happens in the mind of the poor sap looking at the images. Thoughtcrime.

Here's a thought: Sexual fantasies are legal; masturbation is legal.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Our attorney tells me that the prosecutor is a "good guy" just doing his job prosecuting the crimes the feds are told to focus on. I like our attorney so I really want to believe him about this...but it is difficult for me to reconcile what I know of the prosecutor with the attorney's opinion of him.

What do I know? I know only one thing for certain about the prosecutor: He thought it was just fine to send a dozen armed men to invade my home at a time when they knew the children would be home.

Law enforcement wanted the family home when the search warrant was executed or they could have easily done it at a different time. Think about that. They wanted the children there when they came into the home with their weapons drawn, when they aimed a gun at the family dog. They wanted the children to know that their father was in trouble and they chose to do it at a time when the kids would spend all day at school wondering whether their dad would be arrested.

How can a person who approves of that plan be a good guy?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Drugs. If the laws prohibiting illegal drugs were effective, we would have seen proof of it by now. Since it is abundantly clear that the laws haven't slowed down the supply or the incidence of drug use, let's decriminalize the stuff. I've never used illegal drugs but easy (easier?) availability won't make me start now and I'm sure that's true for most people.

Drug law does nothing but fill up our prisons. If you can stomach it, watch this video, read the article and tell me that Columbia MO is better off after this search warrant was executed.
[The police fired] seven rounds into a home just seconds after they'd broken into it. This, despite the fact that there was nothing in the home that posed a lethal threat to them. (Yes, some pit bulls can be dangerous, but not to an armed SWAT team bedecked in full body armor.) One of those rounds missed its intended target (the pit bull) and struck an unintended target (the Corgi). According to Montgomery, there are now bullet holes in the walls of the house. There were other people in that house who weren't suspects, people the cops weren't aware of before they started firing their guns, including a child. That seems like a pretty reckless disregard for human life.
Radley Balko, of the Huffington Post (formerly of Reason magazine), has done extensive reporting on cases like this. I admire his work greatly and I wish he would extend his focus to child pornography cases--if for no other reason than to let the world know that law enforcement uses SWAT teams for most search warrants, not just drugs.

The team that invaded my home used no flash bombs, didn't break down our door, and fired no shots. When I think of how chaotic and terrifying it was for us, I hate to think how the family in Columbia felt.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

This is an old piece from 1999 but still worth reading. The writer, Vin Suprynowicz, a Nevada journalist at the time, talks about reactions from police officers who respond to a column he wrote about "the death of 32-year-old Las Vegan John Perrin, who was armed only with a basketball."
The most chilling, though, was probably the lengthy reply of T.B., an officer with the Cleveland police department. T.B. firmly asserts police have every right to shoot unarmed suspects "100 times, if necessary."
The Suprynowicz says 80 of the 118 police officers who responded to him about the column had similar sentiments, using language more or less blunt as that ugly sample. Fortunately, other respondents were more sensible, more aware of their duty to the public. Sgt. Michael O'Malley of Wayne, New Jersey said,
Ultimately, the coroner's jury decided that the officer's very subjective fears, rather than the objective facts, justified the use of deadly force. That is a frightening conclusion for the jury to have reached. It is even more disturbing if it be the standard by which police officers decide between life and death.

After being in the middle of the military-style search warrant execution at my own home, I have to agree: When the cops are sure that their own fears will justify the extreme actions they take, no one is safe.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

militarization changes the attitude of the police toward the public

If you watch TV police dramas, you can be forgiven for thinking that executing a search warrant is a civilized event: a couple of detectives knock at the door, explain that they have a search warrant, show the warrant, and then politely go in and look around for what the search warrant says they can look for. That's not the way it works in real life.
Within moments, and without Guerena firing a shot--or even switching his rifle off of "safety"--he lay dying, his body riddled with 60 bullets. A subsequent investigation revealed that the initial shot that prompted the S.W.A.T. team barrage came from a S.W.A.T. team gun, not Guerena's. Guerena, reports later revealed, had no criminal record, and no narcotics were found at his home.
Sometimes that is how search warrants are executed. Not so civilized.
As police departments have become more militarized, the attitude of the cops has also become more militarized.
The most serious consequence of the rapid militarization of American police forces, however, is the subtle evolution in the mentality of the "men in blue" from "peace officer" to soldier. This development is absolutely critical and represents a fundamental change in the nature of law enforcement. The primary mission of a police officer traditionally has been to "keep the peace." Those whom an officer suspects to have committed a crime are treated as just that - suspects. Police officers are expected, under the rule of law, to protect the civil liberties of all citizens, even the "bad guys." For domestic law enforcement, a suspect in custody remains innocent until proven guilty. Moreover, police officers operate among a largely friendly population and have traditionally been trained to solve problems using a complex legal system; the deployment of lethal violence is an absolute last resort.
Soldiers, by contrast, are trained to identify people they encounter as belonging to one of two groups -- the enemy and the non-enemy -- and they often reach this decision while surrounded by a population that considers the soldier an occupying force. Once this identification is made, a soldier's mission is stark and simple: kill the enemy, "try" not to kill the non-enemy. Indeed, the Soldier's Creed declares, "I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy the enemies of the United States of America in close combat." This is a far cry from the peace officer's creed that expects its adherents "to protect and serve."  
To protect and that idea nothing more than a relic?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

rosy future?

Today is a good day because I am not overcome with dread of the future. Instead, I am certain that things will work out well and my husband and I will live to be happily retired together.

Obviously, I am refusing to think about the sex offender registry.

Friday, April 20, 2012

how to serve a search warrant

Nineteen years ago today, seventy-six people in the Branch Davidians compound in Waco, Texas, were killed in a fire. The feds tried to execute a search warrant fifty days earlier, resulting in a gun battle killing four Bureau of Alcohol Firearms and Tobacco agents and six Davidians. After the first day, the Davidians were under siege. In the nineteen years since, the feds haven't learned much about safety of the public during the execution of a search warrant.

A quick search of the internet turned up
 these instructions for serving a search warrant in Michigan. (We do not live in Michigan.) 
1.Get a search warrant, no-knock search warrant or arrest warrant from a judge. You must demonstrate that you have probable cause to believe a suspect is hiding evidence at his home to get a search warrant. To obtain a no-knock search warrant, you must demonstrate that the suspect is likely to destroy evidence, or injure himself or others, if he knows police officers are at his residence.
2. Enter arrest warrants into computer databases for local, state or federal law enforcement. Serve search warrants at the residence that the warrant allows you to search.
3. Knock on the door of the residence and identify yourself as a police officer unless you have a no-knock warrant. Give the suspect a reasonable amount of time to open the door. When he comes to the door, show him the search warrant before entering the premises.
4.Force the door open if you have a no-knock warrant or if occupants refuse to allow you into the residence. Be prepared for violence if you face this situation.
Perhaps the law is different in my state because those aren't the rules they followed when they served the warrant at our house. "When he comes to the door, show him the search warrant before entering the premises." That's the part that didn't happen. Wearing Kevlar, they pushed their way in, nearly shot our dog, waved guns around, rounded up my family, and only then--after I made multiple demands to see it--did they show me the warrant.
Protect and serve? Not so much. They protected themselves, first and foremost. We weren't armed. We weren't wearing Kevlar. They were.
All this for a non-violent crime and no reason to suspect that any of us would react violently.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

90-year-old woman wins $95,000 suit for police brutality

This story made me chuckle.
Green [said] the officer shoved her, pushed her over a chair, handcuffed her and insulted her. When the officer then went into her basement, she says she shut the door and locked him inside. She later brought a civil rights lawsuit, and in early April accepted the city's settlement offer. "[I'm a] law-abiding citizen," Green told WBAL. "I've never been arrested, I paid my taxes, owned my home, my husband died 34 years ago. [I] raised my son and I have been brutally abused. I feel like the police department needs to go back to school."
When I am ninety years old, I want to be that spunky.

Monday, April 16, 2012

what to do with the children?

Nebraska is trying to restructure their system for handling foster children. They tried privatization but that didn't work. So, they look for solutions...they look everywhere except right under their noses.

Instead of working so hard to handle the over abundance of foster children, they could cut the numbers by...ready?...taking fewer parents away from the families. When parents go to prison, the kids are left behind and often end up in foster care. Huge numbers of drug convictions lead directly to an overload of the foster care system. 

Many children are in awful situations and foster care can be an improvement for them but when the system is overloaded, these kids suffer from the resulting neglect.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

morality vs. legality

Looking at child pornography, enjoying it, is a great moral wrong. People who get off on child porn need help, undoubtedly. I don't know of anyone who would disagree with these statements, not even--and perhaps especially not even--those who use child porn.

I would like to draw a distinction between morality and legality, though. Every immoral act is not illegal--even some of the most immoral. Cheating on a spouse, gambling away the family savings, ignoring aging parents are all surely immoral. One has moral obligations to family and abandoning those obligations is wrong. Not illegal, though.

Making it illegal to look at child pornography means much less chance of someone coming forward to identify the children in the images. It makes it much less likely that a person would try to find help to move away from an interest in child porn because the fear of being turned in is too great. Keeping it all secret works to the advantage of the people who create and share this vile material.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

If your friend told you that her husband (or his wife) were charged with possession of child pornography, what would your response be? I have no idea what to expect. The idea terrifies me and keeps me awake at night.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

remember to pray

Some days, even when I have the opportunity to blog, I have no idea what to write. Today, I'm just too sad to make much sense about anything.

I try to remember to pray. When prayer is all I have, you'd think I wouldn't need to remind myself.

Monday, April 9, 2012

keeping child porn illegal is a losing game

Computer animation programs are less expensive than ever, making it possible to produce pornographic images in which children are depicted but no real-life children were involved. The images of children are completely computer-generated. Should computer-generated (CG) child porn be illegal? If child porn is illegal because we want to protect children, who are we protecting when we ban CG images?

In video games, CG characters do all kinds of awful violence and yet the vast majority of gamers do not confuse the video world with the real world. Why would we think that people viewing CG child porn would be more likely than gamers to take the video action and try to move it into the real world? Because people who like child porn are particularly sick individuals? And the gamers are not sick for enjoying violence, for pretending to kill?

With the wider availability of CG child porn, courts will be hard-pressed to distinguish between real children and CG children. More resources will be spent sorting out those issues, instead of trying to find those who abuse actual children.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

who looks at child porn?

When law enforcement investigates the world of child pornography, in which area do you think they spend the most time: investigating those who create these horrendous images or tracking down those who view them? I would bet that most of their arrests are of those who download images. Easy to find those guys, easy to get them to confess, easy to get them to plead guilty to a felony. Much harder to identify the children in the images and to identify the people who took the pictures or shot the video. Not to worry, though. Law enforcement will get plenty of  credit for arresting those who look at the images.

People who see the images and know the children are unlikely to call the cops. After all, a conversation that begins with "I was looking at child porn" is likely to end up with the arrest of the caller, even if the caller completes the sentence with, "...and I can identify the children."

Fortunately for the world, law enforcement can look at child porn all the time because they are the good guys, right? How else would they be able to save the children in those images?
And if they aren't looking at child porn to identify the children and the perpetrators, how do they think they will be able to protect those kids? 

So we have law enforcement paid to look at child porn arresting people who look at child porn for free. Crazy world.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

"we were here"

After the ICE agents searched our house and left us with a--believe it or not--"Have a nice day," my husband and I found an attorney in the phone book and met with him. It wasn't until later in the day when we noticed things out of place because of the search. 

In our closet, a box of mementos that had been stored on the highest shelf was left open on the floor of the closet though everything else was in its place. In my underwear drawer, an envelope that I keep on the bottom of the draw was left on top of the underwear. My daughter found her journal left open on her bed.

These all felt as if they were messages to us from the agents that they had been there. I believe that the searches are meant to terrorize the families.