Thursday, May 23, 2013

what do sex offenders have to do with the Farm Bill?

Senator David Vitter, R-LA, proposed an amendment to the Farm Bill currently in the Senate:

[The amendment] would prohibit convicted murderers, rapists, and pedophiles from receiving food stamps. Under current law, there is a lifetime ban for convicted drug felons, though many states have opted out of or modified that ban. Vitter’s amendment would extend the lifetime food stamp ban to dangerous sex offenders and murderers. 
Pedophile is such a funny word. People use it to mean many things, but its meaning is quite specific. Pedophilia is a psychological diagnosis. Does this amendment propose to look at the mental health records of those who apply for food stamps to weed out those with a pedophilia diagnosis? HIPAA prevents that if that is what Vitter intends. Of course he doesn't mean pedophile in its true sense; he uses the word to mean registered sex offenders, whether they are pedophiles or not:

(1) IN GENERAL.—An individual shall not be eligible for benefits under this Act if the
individual is convicted of—
(A) aggravated sexual abuse under section 2241 of title 18, United States Code;
(B) murder under section 1111 of title 18, United States Code;
(C) an offense under chapter 110 of title 18, United States Code;
(D) a Federal or State offense involving sexual assault, as defined in 40002(a) of theViolence Against Women Act of 1994 (42 U.S.C. 13925(a)); or
(E) an offense under State law determined by the Attorney General to be substantially
similar to an offense described in subparagraph (A), (B), or (C).
Put a man in prison, watch him do his time, make it very, very difficult for him to find employment, and then take away federal assistance available to other citizens. Not only that, but the families of "murderers, rapists, and pedophiles" would be made ineligible for food stamps, too:

(2) EFFECTS ON ASSISTANCE AND BENEFITS FOR OTHERS.—The amount of benefits otherwise required to be provided to an eligible household under this Act shall be determined by considering the individual to whom paragraph (1) applies not to be a member of such household, except that the income and resources of the individual shall be considered
to be income and resources of the household.
The best way to help former offenders isn't the food stamp program; the best way would be to make it easier for former offenders to find employment. Eliminating the sex offender registries would be a giant step forward toward that goal. Tell that to your Senator.

You'd think if any Senator would be sympathetic to those on the sex offender registry, it would be Senator Vitter himself since he knows what it feels like to be publicly humiliated because of sexual matters. Vitter's name appeared on a list of clients of the DC Madam in 2009. He apologized, charges were never brought against him, and he went on his merry way to torment those more unlucky than he was.


Vitter isn't the only despicable Senator, though. His amendment passed the Senate today. Unanimously.


Anonymous said...

Yes, yes -- lets give more to men like your hubby, who get sexual pleasure from looking at kids being horribly raped and abused. They totally deserve to be rewarded for contributing to the abuse and suffering of kids!!

Marie said...

I get it, KateK. There is nothing too awful for sex offenders to suffer. Is that all sex offenders, though? Or just a select few categories? Is it the ones who got caught streaking? Or the boy who had a nudie pic of his slightly younger girlfriend? Or is it the guy who is sorry for what he did and has done everything possible to make it right since?

You have this crazy idea that "child pornography" always means "kids being horribly raped and abused." There were NO images like that on my husband's computer, and believe me, the investigators looked long and hard to find the worst they could find.

It seems that imagining the worst images gives some people a kind of pleasure. That's a little creepy.

shelly said...

Sadly, the attitude and feelings of Kate mirror that of many. Those of us who advocate for a safer society through fact-based legislation that encourages rather than inhibits the re-assimilation of all felons walk a tightrope.

We are seen as trying to facilitate criminal acts; nothing could be further from the truth. We envision a world free of sexual abuse for everyone and safe for children in all aspects of their lives. Crime should be punished. Sexual crime against children should be punished.

But there is life after punishment. Many are serving part of the punishment in the community. Most who have sexually offended, once caught and punished, are: 1) ashamed and remorseful; 2) at low risk to repeat the offense; 3) desperate to be allowed to just survive, support self, children, and family, and be given a chance to overcome the past.

There is not one iota of evidence that making that process as difficult as possible for former offenders makes society safer or makes children safer. In fact, all research and fact-based evidence points in the opposite direction.

As a society, we have choices. We can continue to do what makes some of us feel righteous and superior: demand harsher and stricter laws and continuing lifetime punishment, all in the name of protecting children when in reality it does no such thing; OR we can listen to experts, read the research, look at the facts, and demand legislation and policies that reflects what will truly make us all, especially children, safer.

oncefallendotcom said...

Ironically, legislator Vitter was busted with a call girl while wearing a diaper, which is a registerable offense in his home state of Loserana.