Wednesday, October 8, 2014

MO - Making money off sex offender information

KidsLiveSafe Logo
Original Article


By Garrett Bergquist

NEW BLOOMFIELD - How much money would you pay to know if any sex offenders live in your area?

Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Kids Live Safe charges its subscribers $29.97 per month, or $59.88 per year, to tell them where registered sex offenders live in relation to their houses, schools or other places they frequent. Users can set up email alerts for up to four addresses, install filters to monitor their children's online activity, and create profiles of their children to give to law enforcement if their children ever disappear.

Here's the catch: The sex offender information Kids Live Safe provides at cost can be accessed for free through the Missouri State Highway Patrol's website.

Detective Tom O'Sullivan, of the Boone County Sheriff's Department, said state and federal law require anyone who commits a sex crime to register as a sex offender. The registry includes a description of the person and their vehicle, where they live and work and what crime they committed. Missouri law requires the Highway Patrol to make such information available through its website at no cost.

Kids Live Safe representatives turned down multiple requests to speak on the record for this story. A company representative reached by phone said the subscription pays for tools government-run online databases cannot provide, such as the email alerts and filtering software.

The Scarlet Letter of The Twenty First Century

Scarlet Letter Logo
Original Article


By Emily Kristoffersen

We as humans like to take pride in our centuries of supposed social evolution. We claim we are no longer the people in the dark ages of our ancient past, however, even in our modern advanced age of the 21st century we are still labeling people in our society with a form of a scarlet letter. Sex offenders seem to get the brunt of it, being treated as the social undesirables. With this form of labeling they are treated as a form of an untouchable creature and the worst of the worst, in many, if not most cases, they are doomed to wear this label for life. This modern day form of labeling can in ways be compared to the treatment of the characters Hester Prynne and Reverend Dimmesdale in the classic novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne titled ‘The Scarlet Letter’, or possibly the letter or band many lesser valued peoples of Adolf Hitler’s time were forced to wear during WWII. Are we now reverting back to this uncaring and uncompassionate form of behavior we claim to have conquered almost 100 years ago?

After WWII Americans forced Germans to view how the horrors of the holocaust had affected so many innocent victims. The reason given for this forced viewing was said to be that if the Germans would see how the people had suffered from this it would help prevent the same thing from happening in future generations. Apparently this so called cruelty prevention actually never really worked for those trying to teach the lesson. Americans act as if they have learned nothing from the history of that era. That time in history was when Germany started to take away the rights of some of its citizens simply because the people in power felt some of the citizens were considered of lesser value. We here in America now seem to be acting in this same manner of our treatment to many others.

AZ - Arizona’s Naked Photo Law Makes Free Speech a Felony

Original Article


By Lee Rowland

Which of the following could land you a felony conviction in Arizona?
  • Showing images of naked prisoners tortured at Abu Ghraib;
  • Linking to the iconic Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of “Napalm Girl,” showing an unclothed Vietnamese girl running from a napalm attack;
  • Sharing a close-up photo of a woman’s breast with a breastfeeding support group;
  • Waving a friend over to see a cute naked baby pic — like the one you see on this page.

Unfortunately, the answer is all of the above. That’s because Arizona recently passed a law that makes it a felony — and potentially a sex offense — to share any image of nudity or sexuality before you get consent from every person pictured.

Protecting personal privacy is, without doubt, a laudable goal. Indeed, the ACLU works tirelessly to protect your private data. But Arizona’s “nude photo law” is a seriously misguided attempt to achieve that goal. This new crime is broad and confusing. It applies to anyone who shares a nude image, not just to bad actors who intentionally invade another’s privacy. A prosecutor need not demonstrate that a person had an expectation of privacy in an image before charging you with a crime for sharing it. And the law applies equally to a private person’s hacked naked photo and a beautiful nude at a photography exhibit — because the law’s breadth encompasses truly newsworthy, artistic, and historical images.

As a result, the nude photo law creates bizarre and troubling burdens on speech fully protected by the First Amendment.

What I want you to know about being the sister of a convicted sex offender

What I want you to know
Original Article


By Natalie

I used to believe in monsters. Until my brother became one. Three years ago, I got a call that my brother had been arrested for molesting his step-daughter. Certain there had been a mistake, I was obviously dumbfounded. Until he confessed. Through slurred words, drunken ramblings and tears that, yes, he had, and on more than one occasion. The arrest was just the very first drop in a roller coaster of emotion.

This event has single handedly shaken my world like nothing before it. It has transformed my family in a way I could have never imagined. Each of us in separate and different ways.

I'm happy to say I think it's made me a better person. I know this may be hard for some people to reconcile but what I want people to know is there are no such things as monsters. I no longer believe in "bad" people. My message to my daughters (and yes, I have all girls and one is the same age as the victim) is there is no such thing as "bad guys." There are good people who make bad choices.

Before you start to type your heated disagreement let me stress that I in no way condone or excuse my brother's behavior nor any other kind of deviant, illegal behavior. My brother was the perpetrator in this instance not the victim. But I refuse to crucify him either. And that's what I have really learned. Who am I to proclaim an individual, made in Christ's image, a monster? How can I possibly know the many facets of one person? Can anyone of us be defined so narrowly? Would you want to be? It makes us feel safer to categorize and label others because we can distance ourselves, disassociate with our fellow human beings and relieve ourselves of the all-consuming question, "How could this happen?"

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

CANADA - Sex offender supports on a shoestring

Susan Love & Adina Ilea
Susan Love & Adina Ilea
Original Article


By Erin McCracken

The day the doors to David’s prison cell slid open and he was free after spending five and a half years behind bars for sex crimes against children, he was given a one-way ticket to Ottawa and placed on a bus.

Armed only with expired identification, a little cash earned inside prison and two boxes and a bag containing his few possessions, David arrived in the city with limited prospects.

The challenges he faced reintegrating in society were enormous. There would be hurdles in finding a job and stable housing, securing money and proper identification and abiding by strict supervision rules that kicked in upon his release.

It had been almost six years,” said David, speaking under a pseudonym to protect his identity. “It was overwhelming. Scary, because you’re coming out into society and it’s open, it’s freedom.”

So it was difficult at first, but eventually you blend into it.”

The key to blending in, in part, proved to be two smiling women who met him at the bus stop as planned, – his first introduction to a surrogate network of friends and family who wanted to help him rebuild his life, and in the process, ensure he would not reoffend.

They are among more than 50 volunteers with Circles of Support and Accountability-Ottawa, one of 20 CoSA programs across Canada through which 500 volunteers are helping nearly 200 high-risk, high-needs sex offenders reintegrate in society after prison.

At first I didn’t know what to do. I have no social life,” said David. “There was a bit of boredom, a bit of loneliness, but I was able to talk to CoSA about it.”

Each week, he met with his group of four volunteers to talk about his issues, and spent one-on-one time with each of them by going out for coffee, or watching a movie.

They provided him with friendship and support, referring him to services in the city that could help him.

Positive social supports, experts say, combined with sexual-behaviour counselling and treatment, are key to ensuring former offenders such as David do not fall back into their old patterns, leading to more victims.

After almost a year with CoSA, David seemed to be doing well. He had stable housing at a halfway house for ex-inmates and was taking part in a counselling program there. He had found work.