Wednesday, February 24, 2016

New Rule: Those accused of sexual offenses should expect to act as their own counsel; no decent attorney would take the case

When something I write references something read elsewhere, especially when I use direct quotes, I always link to the other piece. Due to my refusal to give the other piece or its publisher any credence or recognition, this post will be the exception to that rule.

In a major election year, one expects nasty, attack campaign ads. The last few years the level of sleaze has deepened and this year threatens, like a spewing volcano, to engulf the entire political process in its roiling, broiling morass.

Interesting parallel — each year the level of sleaze leveled at the entire class of those who are required to be on a sex offender registry deepens, with the list of “cannots” against them growing and spreading, much like the deadly lava of a volcano.

They cannot live where they wish or, often, be where they wish.
They often cannot get/keep employment.
They cannot assume their normal rights as parents or as citizens.
They cannot assume the right to travel freely.
They cannot live free of fear and anxiety for their own and their family’s safety.
Some cannot hide their infamy from anyone viewing their drivers’ licenses or, soon and for all, their passports.
Most importantly, they cannot — ever — be forgiven.

And now, due to an interesting convergence of both political and sex offender sleaze, it seems a new cannot has been added.

In a political ad pretending to be actual journalism, one designed not to directly promote a specific candidate but to destroy one, a candidate was linked with an organization renowned for fighting for unpopular causes in matters of civil rights.

It seems that this organization is “an organization that has an appalling history of providing legal support for sex offenders throughout the nation.”

And the candidate? “Shockingly…like the ACLU, has a history of defending sex offenders as well.”

Appalling history? Shocking? The inference here is that those facing charges for sexual offenses should not be provided legal support, and that anyone who dares provide it is doing something unconscionable and beyond the pale.

So a new cannot joins the others: Those accused of sexual offenses even though, like everyone accused of any crime, considered innocent until proven guilty, CANNOT be represented by counsel because no attorney worth the name would represent such a person.

Much about the public registry and all that it has spawned plays fast and loose with many of our constitutional protections. Now, with this, the Sixth Amendment is not just biting the dust but being stomped, ground, and broken upon the cold, hard earth.

Monday, February 1, 2016

This is how to pass a bill with no facts to support it

The discussion in the U.S. House pertinent to International Megan's Law has ended with a vote to pass the resolution under suspension of the rules. It will now go to the President for his signature.

Ten legislators spoke in favor of the bill. They all threw out a lot of numbers, sometimes in conflict with each other, all designed to draw conclusions that cannot be concluded with any degree of logic.

Remember that the bill is named International Megan's Law to Prevent Child Exploitation and Other Sexual Crimes Through Advanced Notification of Traveling Sex Offenders. Child exploitation and other sexual crimes. Sexual crimes. Traveling sex offenders. Keep that in mind.

One legislator said, "There are tens of millions of victims of human trafficking," and another said, with somewhat less hyperbole, "There have been more than twenty million victims of human trafficking."

These are the kinds of figures that are thrown out, totally unverified but never challenged, but the actual point is that the term "human trafficking" conflates individuals trafficked for the purpose of labor and those trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Examination into the issue suggests that the far greater number is for labor, and those individuals are more likely to be adults than children. Forced labor, amounting to slavery, is horrendous, but is that what those legislators hearing the impassioned speeches of their colleagues thought of? No. They thought of little girls being kidnapped, raped, and prostituted. They thought of little girls like Megan Kanka because Megan's tragedy was recounted for them, if not by every one of the ten speakers, certainly by the majority of them.

And that is another problem. Megan's killer was not a "traveling sex offender." Megan was not trafficked to the human sex trade industry. As horrific as Megan's death was, there is not one syllable or one comma in HR 515 that would have prevented what happened to her. There is no parallel to be made except--oh yeah--she was killed by someone on the registry, and that point was pushed by the speakers for the bill also.

Nothing was said to suggest that the individuals responsible for all of this raping and exploiting were on the registry. It did not need to be said. That was nevertheless the message received because, if the purpose of the bill is to stop these things from happening, and the bill targets those on the registry, then those committing the acts must be those on the registry, just as Megan's killer was.

One speaker said that, in a given time period, passports had been issued to 2,000 registered sex offenders. That may well be true. Another, also speaking of a specific time period, said, "4,500 registered sex offenders received passports; that is unacceptable." Unacceptable? Unacceptable that 4,500 American citizens, for a myriad of reasons, chose to apply for and receive an American passport? Nothing was said to suggest that any of those 2,000 or any of those 4,500 used the passport to facilitate a sexual crime against a child--or any crime against anyone. But is that the message sent and received? Of course it was. If the purpose of the bill is to prevent these things from happening....

And so it passed. If all that had gone before had not been enough to secure its passage, the last, closing remark would surely have done so. "This will save children's lives."

Again, totally lacking in evidence, but a statement that will be heartily embraced and received and repeated as though it were gospel truth.