Monday, October 27, 2014

Truth-Out: Brutal Crimes Don't Justify Bad Laws By Jean Trounstine


A Must Read!

Brutal Crimes Don't Justify Bad Laws, October 26, 2014
By Jean Trounstine
 
A true tragedy, driven by a media frenzy, often provokes a misguided need to do something as quickly as possible and leads to bad public policy - like California's Three Strikes sentencing law. 

Massachusetts Juvenile Judge Jay D. Blitzman got it right when he explained in 2008 why brutal crimes so often lead to bad laws. In an article for the Barry Law Review he wrote: "As the public and media react to the crime du jour, there is an unfortunate tendency to legislate by anecdote." Stories gain momentum, get fueled in the press, and can be used for political advantage by the powers that be, and before we know it, the need for change, and in some cases, vengeance, turns too quickly into ill-conceived laws.

Virginia Revisits Penalties for Teen Sexting, By Frank Green

 
I did not “oppose” changes back in 2009, I actually asked the Commission to take steps so over zealous Commonwealth Attorneys (prosecutors) could not arrest, charge and strong-arm a plea deal for teens who consensually Sext under our Child Pornography statutes.

Otherwise, a great and accurate article. 

Thanks Frank! 

Mary 

Virginia revisits penalties for teen sexting, October 27, 2014
By Frank Green
http://www.timesdispatch.com/news/virginia-revisits-penalties-for-teen-sexting/article_20a5a525-b197-5d73-86d3-e1c1474f241a.html 

Should teenagers who exchange sexually explicit messages and photos face the same punishment as adults charged with producing and distributing child pornography? 

The Virginia State Crime Commission is revisiting the teen sexting issue and may again consider legislation that would lessen penalties — primarily intended for pornographers — in consensual cases involving suspects who are minors. 

Virginia law makes no distinction between adult predators producing and distributing child pornography and minors taking sexually suggestive photos of themselves and sending them to friends over their cellphones. 

If tried as an adult, someone younger than 15 who takes a lewd picture of himself or herself could be committing a felony punishable by a prison term of five to 30 years and a place on the state sex offender registry. Even possession of such photos is a felony and, if the recipient passes it on or simply shows it on his or her phone to another person, it could be considered distribution of child pornography punishable by a term of five to 20 years. 
 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Halloween 2014: Do’s and Don’ts for Virginia’s Registered Sex Offenders

 
Friday is Halloween….Do you know what you or your loved one who happens to be a Registered Sex Offender (RSO) can or can not do on October 31st  in Virginia? 

In Virginia there is no law prohibiting RSO’s from participating in Halloween activities.

RSO’s (and their family members or room-mates) can:
  1. Have their front door light on
  2. Decorate their home/yard
  3. Wear a costume
  4. Accompany their own children trick-or-treating
  5. Answer their door and hand out candy

BUT, if the RSO is under Virginia’s Department of Correction Probation Supervision then there MAY be restrictions specific to THAT RSO that they MUST follow or face a probation violation (a felony).  

Each VA-DOC Probation District handles Halloween differently and they are obligated to advise the RSO ahead of time of their restrictions or requirement to attend a Probation meeting. Your Probation officer could also stop by your home to confirm you have followed the rules your District advised you of before October 31st. 

Just because your local news station may run a story telling viewers Sex Offenders are prohibited from celebrating Halloween in Virginia doesn’t mean it’s true!
 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Council of State Governments Justice Center 2014 Presentation- An Overview of Sex Offender Reentry: Building a Foundation for Professionals


I’m 6 months late in finding this but better late than never! 

Mary Devoy
 

Presentation by Council of State Governments Justice Center, April 23, 2014 

An Overview of Sex Offender Reentry: Building a Foundation for Professionals
·         Kurt Bumby, Ph.D.
·         David D’Amora, M.S., LPC, CFC
·         Shenique S. Thomas, Ph.D. 

Overview:

75 Slide Presentation:
 

CURE-SORT Summary on this Presentation: 

Over 1,000 participants participated in this first of a series to address ways to assist one with a sex offense who is returning to the community. Research shows that re-arrest figures are more likely to be a non-sex crime and that supervision violations are high.  

Those working with this population have found a daunting task in developing comprehensive reentry strategies which meet the countless difficult hurdles a person with a sex offense faces upon release.  

The webinar presented those participating, which included criminal justice professionals, parole and probation agents, corrections professionals, reentry professionals and advocates, with statistics, information about the population being emphasized, barriers and challenges faced by this population, and a plan to assist those professionals responsible for assisting those with a sex offense as they transition into the community.  
 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

NBC12 Richmond Virginia: Grandmother Wants 6 year old Girl Criminally Charged for Sexual Assault on School Bus. Legal Analyst Steve Benjamin says, “A Criminal Prosecution of a Six-year-old Would be Absolutely Pointless, and it's Also Equally Absurd to Call a 6-year-old a Sexual Predator”


6-year-old allegedly sexually assaulted on Richmond School bus
Reporter Chris Thomas

Richmond school officials are investigating a report of a six-year-old allegedly sexually assaulted on a school bus by another student. 

The mother of the alleged victim says her daughter came home from school screaming and crying. She could not believe her ears, and now wants criminal charges against the suspect, a six-year-old student at J.E.B. Stuart Elementary School. 

“'I'm so sorry it happened.' I heard that 50 million times,” the alleged victim's mother, Whitney Couser. said. “Why are you pulling panties down? You shouldn't be pulling another child's panties down at all.” 
 

2014 Chapman University Survey on American Fears: Myths are More Believed Than Reality. Thank You Victim Advocates, Career Legislators and the Media for Your 24/7 Fear-Mongering that Has Skewed Our Citizens Perspectives and Beliefs!

 
The Chapman Survey on American Fears

The Sky is Falling (and the Boogeyman is chasing me)

When Fear Outweighs Reality
A new poll finds Americans’ fears don’t always match reality.

What Are Your Fears and Phobias?

 

Ashe Schow: Two White House Statistics on Campus Sexual Assault that Can't Both be True

 
Two White House statistics on campus sexual assault that can't both be true, October 22, 2014
By Ashe Schow

White House claims that one in five women will be sexually assaulted while in college, and that just 12 percent report the crime, cannot both be true, according to American Enterprise scholar Mark J. Perry. 

In January, a White House task force made the two claims, but Perry — who is also an economics professor at the University of Michigan in Flint — did the math using sexual assault statistics from Ohio State University and found a major discrepancy. Perry originally noted this discrepancy in May, but has updated his statistics since OSU released its 2013 numbers. 

“Using actual reported crime statistics on sexual offenses at almost any US college and applying the White House claim that only 12% of campus sexual assaults actually get reported, we have to conclude that nowhere near 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted while in college,” Perry wrote. “Alternatively, if the ‘1 in 5 women’ claim is true, the percentage of sexual assaults that get reported to the campus police would have to be much, much lower than 12%. In other words, the claims that the White House uses don’t work together and they therefore both can’t be simultaneously correct.” 
 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

October 21, 2014 VSCC Meeting: Proposals for Consensual Teen Sexting in Virginia and the Many Concerns the Proposals Have Raised

 
The Virginia State Crime Commission held its second meeting for 2014 today, agenda . 

Presentations:
  1. Status of Special Conservators of the Peace
  2. Private Police Departments
  3. Digital Impersonation and Harassment (HB 344 and HB 707)
  4. Update on Sexting
  5. Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force Case Examples
  6. Human Trafficking and Juvenile Prostitution (SB 373 and HB 486)
  7. Update on Law Enforcement Lineups
The first 15 slides of the Sexting Presentation is a look back on what Virginia has and hasn’t done in past years to address Teen Sexting. 

On slide #16 we learn that a group I had never heard of The Virginia Criminal Justice Conference- VCJC (which was created in 2006 to be the criminal justice system equivalent of the Boyd-Graves Conference) has been discussing Teen Sexting for 3 years now.  

The VCJC is made up of a roughly equal balance of prosecutors and defense attorneys, and also includes jurists from each level of Virginia’s courts, legal scholars, and representatives from the General Assembly. Its goal is to improve criminal justice in Virginia, and make proposals for improvement, but only if substantial consensus is reached amongst the members. Its annual conference is hosted by The Virginia Trial Lawyers Association- VTLA; there is no website for the VCJC to know who the members are, what they are meeting about or when they've met. On the VTLA website there is a VCJC page that reads “coming soon”. 

The most recent VCJC Sexting Subcommittee decided that Sexting legislation in Virginia:
  • Should not completely decriminalize any sexting behavior, as even taking a lewd photo of oneself, as a minor, creates an
  • unquestionable risk of harm;
  • Should recognize that qualitatively, some sexting behaviors are less culpable than the conduct that is the primary focus of the child pornography statutes, and are therefore deserving of a lessened penalty;
  • Should fit within the existing child pornography statutes;
  • Should be very limited in scope; and,
  • Should contain a “first offender” provision that would apply only to those limited sexting behaviors.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Jean Auldridge, Longtime Director of C.U.R.E.-Virginia, Dies at 83

 
I emailed with Jean from 2009 until sometime in 2012 due to her health issues. I first met Jean at the 2011 Annual Virginia CURE conference in Stafford, VA as she was unable to attend the 2010 conference in Norfolk, VA where I was a speaker. 

She was a great advocate and a very special person, she will be greatly missed. 

For more about Virginia CURE and their upcoming 2014 Conference visit their site.

Mary Devoy
 

Jean Auldridge, longtime director of C.U.R.E.-Virginia, dies at 83, October 19, 2014
By Ellen Robertson

For 25 years, Jean Auldridge gave encouragement and hope to some of Virginia’s most forgotten citizens: prison inmates and their families. 

From 1989 until recently, she served first as director and later as president of Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants-Virginia, better known as C.U.R.E., a nonprofit advocacy group with branches around the state. 

In failing health for five years, she died Oct. 10 at her Northern Virginia home in Vienna at age 83. 

Mrs. Auldridge learned about C.U.R.E. while working as an executive secretary on Capitol Hill to Sen. Robert T. Stafford, R-Vt., and met Charles and Pauline Sullivan, who came to see him. 
 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Two New Books on Teen Sexting


Two New Books on Teen Sexting being released in: 

February 2015:
By Amy Adele Hasinoff 

Summary:
Sexting Panic illustrates that anxieties about technology and teen girls sexuality distract from critical questions about how to adapt norms of privacy and consent for new media. Though mobile phones can be used to cause harm, Amy Adele Hasinoff notes that the criminalization and abstinence policies meant to curb sexting often fail to account for distinctions between consensual sharing and malicious distribution. Challenging the idea that sexting inevitably victimizes young women, Hasinoff argues for recognizing young people's capacity for choice and encourages rethinking the assumption that everything digital is public. 

Timely and engaging, Sexting Panic analyzes the debates about sexting while recommending realistic and nuanced responses. 

December 2014: 
By Shaneen Shariff 
 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Hanna Rosin for the Atlantic in Louisa Virginia: Why Kids Sext

As the new school year began, few people attended an evening community meeting on teen sexting held by Rusty McGuire, Louisa County’s main prosecutor.
 
A MUST Read!

Why Kids Sext
An inquiry into one recent scandal reveals how kids think about sexting—and what parents and police should do about it.
By Hanna Rosin

It was late on a school night, so Jennifer’s kids were already asleep when she got a phone call from a friend of her 15-year-old daughter, Jasmine. “Jasmine is on a Web page and she’s naked.” Jennifer woke Jasmine, and throughout the night, the two of them kept getting texts from Jasmine’s friends with screenshots of the Instagram account. It looked like a porn site—shot after shot of naked girls—only these were real teens, not grown women in pigtails. Jennifer recognized some of them from Jasmine’s high school. And there, in the first row, was her daughter, “just standing there, with her arms down by her sides,” Jennifer told me. “There were all these girls with their butts cocked, making pouty lips, pushing their boobs up, doing porny shots, and you’re thinking, Where did they pick this up? And then there was Jasmine in a fuzzy picture looking awkward.” (The names of all the kids and parents in this story have been changed to protect their privacy.) You couldn’t easily identify her, because the picture was pretty dark, but the connection had been made anyway. “OMG no f‑ing way that’s Jasmine,” someone had commented under her picture.  

“Down lo ho,” someone else answered, meaning one who flies under the radar, because Jasmine was a straight‑A student who played sports and worked and volunteered and was generally a “goody-goody two shoes,” her mom said. She had long, silky hair and doe eyes and a sweet face that seemed destined for a Girl Scouts pamphlet, not an Instagram account where girls were called out as hos or thots (thot stands for “that ho over there”).

That night, in March of this year, Jennifer tried to report the account to Instagram’s privacy-and-safety center, hoping it would get taken down. She asked several friends to fill out the “report violations” page too, but after a few hours, the account was still up. (Instagram’s help center recommends contacting local authorities in cases of serious abuse.) She considered calling 911, but this didn’t seem like that kind of emergency. So she waited until first thing the next morning and called a local deputy sheriff who serves as the school resource officer, and he passed the message on to his superior, Major Donald Lowe. Over the years, Lowe had gotten calls from irate parents whose daughters’ naked pictures had popped up on cellphones, usually sent around by an angry boyfriend after a breakup. But he immediately realized that this was a problem of a different order. Investigation into the Instagram account quickly revealed two other, similar accounts with slightly different names. Between them, the accounts included about 100 pictures, many of girls from the local high school, Louisa County High, in central Virginia. Some shots he later described to me as merely “inappropriate,” meaning girls “scantily clad in a bra and panties, maybe in a suggestive pose.” But some “really got us”—high-school girls masturbating, and then one picture showing a girl having sex with three boys at once.
 

Radley Balko on the Current Feeding Frenzy Against John Grisham: “If someone who has done as much as Grisham has for criminal justice reform can be torn down for this, there isn’t much incentive for anyone to speak openly and honestly about difficult issues anymore”

 
In the last 24 hours I have posted the articles of outrage (see the post below this one) against John Grisham and I have watched and read the on-line posts by National Child Advocacy Organization PROTECT (that lobbies here in Virginia every GA session) and the comments of their “supporters” and/or “followers”  of hate, ignorance, vindictiveness, assumptions, accusations and threats against John Grisham and/or his statements on how the US  charges, sentences, imprisons and labels Americans for possession of child pornography. The uproar and commentaries have not been a surprise to me as a public advocate for reform of the registry but they are still extremely disappointing. The on-line mob-mentality has taken over and Mr. Grisham was forced to apologize to save his career and name as an author and as an advocate for criminal justice.
 
Mr. Balko has once again written a factual piece, not emotional and I wanted to be sure to share it here with all of you.

Mary 

In defense of John Grisham, October 16, 2014
By Radley Balko 

The Internet is enjoying a good piling on right now at the expense of author John Grisham. In an interview with the Telegraph, Grisham talked about over-incarceration in America. As part of that discussion, Grisham also mentioned that he thinks the laws and sentences for viewing or possessing child pornography are excessive. Cue the Internet outrage machine. 
 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Charlottesville Virginia Author John Grisham says sentencing for child porn watchers is too harsh. "There's so many of them now. There's so many 'sex offenders' - that's what they're called - that they put them in the same prison. Like they're a bunch of perverts, or something; thousands of ’em. We've gone nuts with this incarceration,"

 
Update: 

It’s a shame that when someone expresses their opinion based on an actual experience someone they know and/or love has had that doesn’t conform with the majority’s opinion of harsher, longer and more punitive punishments for all...... are forced to explain, apologize or retract their original statement because of public pressure from those who are outraged that person isn’t on the “band-wagon”. 

Mary 

The war on porn is as unwinnable as the war on drugs, October 16, 2014
John Grisham says men are being wrongly jailed for viewing child porn, but the authorities have to be seen to be punishing someone, says Martin Daubney
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/thinking-man/11166846/The-war-on-porn-is-as-unwinnable-as-the-war-on-drugs.html 

 
John Grisham sorry he called for lighter sentence for sex offender pal, October 16, 2014

John Grisham: ‘I regret’ remarks questioning harsh sentences for child porn viewers, October 16, 2014
 
Original Article: 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe Announces Significant Cuts and Layoffs for the Virginia Department of Corrections and the Virginia State Police to Fill $346 Million of the $2.4 Billion Deficit Gap

 

Update: 

Local prison to close in wake of cuts, October 15, 2014
Delaying the filling of 20 new corrections officer positions that were in this year’s budget and delaying the filling of the nine new sex offender monitoring positions that were in the budget
 

Original Post: 

Virginia Department of Corrections and the Virginia State Police are taking the biggest hit, see link to full article below. Closing a residential facility and a diversion center will make successful re-entry for former offenders much more difficult.  
 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Total Virginia Juveniles Arrested from 2001 to 2013 for Pornography

 
This post is a follow-up to the earlier October 8 post about the upcoming VSCC meeting that includes Sexting.

How many investigations of Teen Sexting are there every year in Virginia? How many lead to an arrest? How many petitions, adjudications and convictions occur? How many are malicious and how many are non-malicious? It turns out these numbers don’t exist and the VSCC staff will not be presenting any numbers at the meeting on the 21st (I already made an inquiry). 

The only numbers I can find are the arrests of juveniles in Virginia for pornography by age and there is no way to know what percentages of them are for Sexting.  

So, have these numbers decreased, increased or stayed the same since the last 2009 VSCC Sexting study?  
 

2013 Virginia Crime Report

 
Virginia State Police: Crime in Virginia January to December 2013:
 
2013 Summary:

Forcible Sex Offenses -                              4,888                down from             5,093 in 2012
Non-Forcible Sex Offenses-                         189                 down from                196 in 2012
(Child) Pornography-                                 1,052                 up from                     714 in 2012
Prostitution-                                                   1,022                up from                    993 in 2012 

In 2013, the contributing agencies reported 4,591 offenses resulting in 4,888 victims of a forcible sex offense.
In 2013, the contributing agencies reported 1,411 rape/attempted rape offenses resulting in 1,436 victims. 

Offenders of Forcible Sex Offense:
                Male
                17 years old or younger-                 1,108                     down from            1,199 in 2012
                18 to 35 years old-                            1,722                     down from           1,855 in 2012
                36 years or older-                                889                    down from           1,433 in 2012 

                Female
                17 years old or younger-                       91                     down from              107 in 2012
                18 to 35 years old-                               101                     down from              103 in 2012
                36 years or older-                                  49                     down from                 57 in 2012 
 

Joe Nelson Writes Two Articles on California Attorney Janice Bellucci and RSO Frank Lindsey on Why They Work to Reform the Laws Against RSO’s, What Being on a Public List Can Lead to (becoming the target of a vigilante attack) and the Ordinance Lawsuits They’ve Filed Against CA Cities After the 4th District Court of Appeal’s Decision in January

 

Two great articles!

Mary 

1- Sex-crimes convict says registration has ruined his career, endangered his life, October 11, 2014
By Joe Nelson

Frank Lindsay lives a relatively quiet life in the San Luis Obispo County city of Grover Beach. 

For 35 years he’s kept out of trouble, but his one conviction in 1979 for lewd and lascivious acts with a child under the age of 14 continues to haunt him: He is required to register as a sex offender in California for the rest of his life, which has permanently branded him. He is limited in where he can live and where he can go due to restrictive state and local laws, which Lindsay said have also endangered his life. 

“We stopped burning witches a long time ago, but this is very similar to that,” said Lindsay, 62, who co-authored a book titled “We’re All In This Together” about his challenges and experiences as a registered sex offender. 
 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Elizabeth Letourneau: “All too often, our attention, resources and shock are focused on what happens after a crime is committed—we need to be asking how we can prevent child sex abuse”


I debated for more than 30 minutes if I should “post” the below article or just list the title and link on the In the News page because some people would immediately go on a rampage calling me a predator or pedophile sympathizer (which I am not) based on the article’s title alone 

I have read other articles, studies and editorials on pedophiles and pedophilia (one very recently) and have immediately concluded the authors and their writings are reckless, bias and scary and you’ve never seen one of them posted on this blog.  

But the below article is spot on as have been other writings by Dr. Elizabeth Letourneau and it should be read by everyone including those who grasp for reasons to discredit me, my advocacy and this platform. 

The pages of this blog are viewed 2,100- 3,300 times per month from people across the globe including State and Federal Legislators, Reporters & Journalists, Researchers, Attorneys, Law Students, Victim’s Advocates, Abuse Survivors, Offenders and the Family Members of those Survivors and Offenders and I’ve decided the below article should be read by all. 

Let the judgment commence! 

Mary Devoy
 

We Need to Make It Easier for Pedophiles To Seek Help
By Elizabeth Letourneau

Elizabeth J. Letourneau is Director of the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse and Associate Professor, Department of Mental Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
 
I don’t know Stephen Collins. Or his wife. Or their therapist. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Upcoming October 21st VSCC Meeting: Teen to Teen Sexting in Virginia Can Lead to Charges, Convictions, Imprisonment and Registration as a Sex Offender Under Current Child Pornography Laws, It’s Time to Change That!

 
The Virginia State Crime Commission will be holding their second meeting for 2014 on Tuesday October 21st. On the draft agenda is “Sexting”. An issue the VSCC last studied back in 2009 and then they decided not to address the current child pornography statutes that sweep up teens who “Sext” each other. 

There were no bills (legislation) from the 2014 Virginia General Assembly on Sexting that were sent to the VSCC to be studied in 2014 so I’m guessing the outlandish chain-of-events earlier this year in Manassas Virginia that was only stopped because of the national media attention and public outcry against the Commonwealth Attorney, Assistant Commonwealth Attorney, the magistrate and the investigator is the reason the VSCC has added Sexting to it’s 2014 study list. 

For anyone who missed the Manassas case where those in authority forced a minor to have his flaccid penis photographed for comparison to the “Sexted” images and when that wasn't good enough they obtained a warrant that would have forced the 17 year old boy to submit to an erectile enlargement injection to then have his erect penis photographed by the authorities as additional evidence you can read the past posts from beginning to end:
·         July 4th 
·         July 9, 2014
·         July 11, 2014  (My favorite article!)
·         July 17, 2014
·         July 25, 2014
·         July, 31, 2014
·         August 2, 2014 

Teenagers who send or exchange sexual or nude photos and/or videos with other teens do not pose a threat to society! The Child Pornography laws were NEVER intended to include them but yet we have Prosecutors and Police Departments in Virginia that think they should be treated as child pornographers including the mandatory minimum prison sentences and lifetime registration as a public "Violent" Sex Offender.

One-size does NOT fit ALL!

It’s time for Virginia to take the much need step to separate Teen Sexting from Child Pornography! 

For the last two days I have been doing a lot of research on what has been published and concluded about Sexting since 2009 when I last asked the VSCC to separate the two in the Virginia Code.