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Thursday, January 1, 2015

Child Sex Rings, Kennith Lanning former FBI agent

Child Sex Rings, Kennith Lanning former FBI agent

Criminal Defence Challenges in Computer Forensics

Criminal Defence Challenges in Computer Forensics

Video: More Laws Equals More Violence–Criminalization as a Failed Strategy for Anti-Violence Movements by Andrew Extein

Video: More Laws Equals More Violence–Criminalization as a Failed Strategy for Anti-Violence Movements by Andrew Extein

Video located @
This incredibly on-point video created by The Barnard Center for Research on Women and the Columbia Center on Gender and Sexuality Law explains the many reasons why fighting for more punitive measures counteracts any agenda to reduce violence. The wonderful Dean Spade, Andrea Ritchie, Shira Hassan, and others talk about how increasing punitive laws fuel mass incarceration, a system that we know exacerbates individual and community violence. We at The Center for Sexual Justice also believe that extended punitive measures such as (often life-long) public sex offender registration and harsh mandatory minimums disproportionate to harm are counter-effective tools to reduce violence among sexual minorities. Promoting and funding systems of oppression such as the Prison-Industrial-Complex will not help us reach our goals of reducing harm and violence for marginalized populations.

Was John Grisham Right? How Child Porn Laws Fuel Mass Incarceration by Andrew Extein

Was John Grisham Right? How Child Porn Laws Fuel Mass Incarceration by Andrew Extein

Popular author John Grisham made headlines this week for speaking out against harsh sentences for child pornography, citing the recent prosecution of a friend for downloading child porn. His friend was sentenced to three years in prison for downloading pornography that claimed to depict 16-year-old females. Predictably there was an immediate backlash, with people accusing him of sympathizing with dangerous pedophiles and even going so far as to find his views an implicit admission of his own child porn fetish. Disappointingly, Grisham then backtracked within hours and entirely took back his statements. However, the extremely negative public reaction to his statements and the social pressure to conform to popular values only highlight the harsh reality of the deranged era of sex panic that fuels mass incarceration today.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Grisham made some reasonable points, despite some of his phrasing and tone. He pointed out that there are many men incarcerated for downloading child porn who would never abuse or have sexual contact with a child; substance use and compulsive pornography consumption can lead people down a path to downloading child porn when they otherwise might not, often entirely by accident; many people convicted of child porn are accused of downloading porn depicting or representing post-pubescent teenagers; sex offender registries are inflated one-size-fits-all solutions to complex and disparate offenses and issues; mass incarceration is a real problem in the US, with exponential rises in prison populations despite falls in violent crime.

Reporter Peter Foster adds more data to his article on Grisham that backs up his claims:

There are currently some 2.2m people in jail in the US – or more than 750 per 100,000 population – which makes the US by far the heaviest user of prison sentences in the world…Since 2004 average sentences for those who possess – but do not produce – child pornography have nearly doubled in the US, from 54 months in 2004 to 95 months in 2010, according to a 2012 report by the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

We can see that this explosion in sentencing for child pornography possession follows the trend of mass incarceration. With the opposition to the war on drugs increasing in popularity, there is a growing consensus that we need to address the problems of over-incarceration and overcrowded prisons. Despite this cultural trend, the support for increased punitive measures for sex crimes has remained on the upward trajectory that has been around since the 1980s.

This is evident in the reaction to Grisham’s comments. He has been almost universally panned and derided for questioning the popular belief that downloading child pornography deserves a punishment of many years in prison plus lifetime registration as a sex offender. Even the usually-progressive Think Progress published an article by Jessica Goldstein that supports such conservative values that have lead to increasingly harsh sex crime legislation: fetishizing a false idea of childhood innocence, using pejorative language that perpetuates a concept of deviance that has historically been used to demonize and criminalize queer and trans folk, using the logic of black-and-white thinking to erase any nuance in unique experiences. All of these ways of thinking are what has fueled mass incarceration. Similarly, the war on drugs was waged in the name of children and families that reinforced patriarchal, racist, and classist notions of criminality.

I have written about the devastation of child porn legislation before in an article about Jesse Ryan Loskarn, a Washington chief-of-staff who committed suicide after being arrested for downloading child pornography. Loskarn attributed his offense in part to his own experiences of sexual abuse as a child. However, the public shame and inevitable criminalization that would surely cause a bleak future of isolation, unemployment, and depression proved too much to bear, and he made the decision to end his life.

These are very concrete and tragic side effects to a cultural consensus to punish child porn and other sex offenses disproportionate to the harm inflicted. My summary of the effects of child porn legislation bear repeating:

So what happens when someone is arrested for possession of child pornography? They feel as if their lives have been ruined, that there is no going back to a normal life, no way out, no hope for understanding or empathy from anyone in their lives. They are immediately fired from their jobs. Human relationships crumble, and families are shattered. They are almost invariably convicted and sent to prison and are often placed in imposed solitary confinement, which may be physically safe but can be psychologically damaging. In prison, child pornography offenders are the lowest on the totem pole, both ostracized and targeted. They are often subjected to abuse from inmates and staff alike and are sometimes even killed. Having a same-sex victim comes with its own baggage and set of biases, as one now becomes a double offender, transgressing social boundaries of age as well as gender.

Once released from prison, child porn offenders are placed on a sex offender registry, many for the rest of their lives. Currently nearly 750,000 people are listed as sex offenders on the public registry. The rules of the registry make it nearly impossible to find work or housing, and this is even harder for those on parole and probation. They are publicly listed on the Internet with a photo, address and description of the offense, which leaves the offenders and their families vulnerable to harassment, violence, and sometimes murder. Recently two registrants were beaten and killed in New Hampshire for being publicly listed as sex offenders. A registrant in South Carolina and his wife were killed by a white supremacist in their homes, once again for being listed on the public registry. Suicide as a consequence of sex offender registries is also common. Last year, in a profoundly tragic situation, a 15-year-old boy in Alabama hanged himself shortly after being arrested for streaking during a high school football game. While there are many factors to suicide, it seems that the school’s explicit threat of prison and sex offender status greatly contributed to his death. Sadly, these cases are not rare.

And it doesn’t look like things are getting better. Many child porn possessions receive harsher sentencing than for hands-on offenses or violent sexual assault of a child, despite no evidence that such possession correlates to or increases the likelihood of future hands-on offenses. Therapists in California are now required to report to law enforcement any client that admits to having viewed child pornography. Judges are handing out 500-year sentences. Scores of men are getting sentenced to 10 years in prison for sexual assault of an imaginary minor in unethical and unconstitutional undercover sex stings where there is no real minor to be abused. Hundreds of gay men are being entrapped and sent to prison for cruising in public. Law enforcement officers are now photographing teenage boys’ erect penises to more effectively prosecute them for consensual sexting with a peer.

If we, as a society, are gearing up to earnestly fight mass incarceration, this must include a long, hard, critical look at the way that we conceptualize and punish sex-related offenses. We can’t reduce prison populations if we merely replace drug offenders with sex offenders. Many sex offenses are bad—very bad— and shifting our focus will help implement smart solutions that actually prevent harmful sexual assault. Handing over more scapegoats to the government won’t decrease the power of the state to inflict violence. We shouldn’t immediately rail against John Grisham and others for questioning how sex offenses are legislated; we should stop, listen, think, and talk to each other about our complicated and visceral feelings and thoughts about sex.

All against pedophilla Ethnographic, notes about a contemporary moral crusada, Laura Lowenkron