Prosecutorial Discretion

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

More victims of the unintended consequences of laws named after dead people:

Call it bullying or call it horseplay. Either way, a state appellate court panel says roughhousing with a sexual connotation by a pair of 14-year-old Somerset County boys was a crime that requires them to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives.

In a decision handed down Monday, the three-judge panel acknowledged the severity of its decision, but said it was bound to uphold the law.

“We are keenly aware that our decision may have profound lifelong ramifications for these two boys as well as others similarly situated,” Judge Jose Fuentes wrote.

One of the boys, whose case went to trial, said he had sat on the faces of a pair of 12-year-old schoolmates with his bare buttocks in November 2008 “cause I thought it was funny and I was trying to get my friends to laugh,” he told a family court judge.

But an act is considered criminal sexual contact if it is done for sexual gratification or to degrade or humiliate the victim, and punishable by lifetime registration — even for juveniles — under Megan’s Law, which requires a person convicted of a sex crime against a child to notify police of changes of address or employment.

The trial judge concluded the teenager intended to humiliate or degrade his victims and found him guilty of criminal sexual contact. The second teenager who was implicated pleaded guilty to criminal sexual contact and received the same penalty . . .

The prosecutor who charged these kids ought to lose his job.

Digg it |  reddit |  del.icio.us |  Fark

102 Responses to “Prosecutorial Discretion”

  1. #1 |  Brandon | 

    At least now there is the tacit acknowledgement that the list is about punishment and not about public safety.

  2. #2 |  EH | 

    Bullying is OK if it’s done by a prosecutor.

  3. #3 |  LivingPre911Still | 

    A friend of my father who was a Judge used to tell him frequently… “If you want Justice, you won’t find it in a court room… all you find is Law”… and this was in the 70’s!!!!

  4. #4 |  Cyto | 

    “The prosecutor who charged these kids ought to lose his job.”

    Don’t you mean “get a raise and a promotion?” That is how this works, right? 2 convictions of dangerous sex offenders under his belt… he’s well on his way to an upgrade to elective office.

  5. #5 |  MassHole | 

    It would be interesting to know the number of people screwed by being on the sex offender list that shouldn’t be vs. the number of people saved from harm by the list. It’s just a scarlet letter for the 21st century. Don’t get caught streaking or taking a leak in public.

  6. #6 |  Marty | 

    we skinny dipped in the quarries, mooned people, went streaking, had penthouses in the clubhouse, I know very few people who were virgins past 17 years old… Hell, everyone I grew up with would be in a gulag today.

    Except for this fucking prosecutor- who has still managed to not get laid.

  7. #7 |  Joey Maloney | 

    I encourage prosecutors to continue bringing as many of these kinds of cases as possible, and fighting to get convictions by any means necessary. The more they do, the faster the registries become vitiated beyond any arguable use. The more average people end up with someone they know is perfectly normal on the list, the sooner the public will stop giving it any credence at all.

    And if a few thousand people have their lives ruined in the meantime, and a few dozen are murdered by misguided vigilantes…well, it’ll be a tasty omelette in the end.

  8. #8 |  David | 

    Without prosecutors doing cases like this (juvenile or otherwise “sympathetic” to voters offenders) there won’t ever be traction to undo some of the excesses of the criminal law in this regard (one might draw a loose analogy to racial segregation law challenges which required a charged person to challenge the law).

    I want prosecutors to exercise more discretion, but I don’t want to have to RELY upon them to exercise their discretion; I want better-drafted laws that at the least allow courts (i.e. so both prosecutors and judges have discretion, not just prosecutors – baby steps to a better law…) to mitigate unduly harsh results. Ideally any legislator who voted for the law who was still in office somewhere could be tracked down and asked what he/she thought of the decision and whether the law should be amended to give judges more discretion, or if not, why not.

  9. #9 |  Bernard | 

    Joey,

    Once the list is meaningless some bright spark politician will create a ‘dangerous sex offender list’ which you only get on if you’ve committed really heinous crimes.

    Then prosecutors will compete with each other ruin lives by having public urination and so on classified as ‘dangerous sex offences’ and a few thousand more lives will be ruined until that list becomes a busted flush and the ‘really dangerous sex offenders’ list comes up.

    The problem with stupidity is that you can always keep shovelling more on as the stench from the first lot gets to be too public.

  10. #10 |  JS | 

    If I had a family and the means I would get them out of this nuthouse of a country as fast as I could. If I ever get to save any money I’m leaving myself.

  11. #11 |  Bryan | 

    What about the kids whose faces were sat on? They had their faces on the bare bottom of a 14 year old boy. Talk about sexual deviants. Throw them on the list too.

  12. #12 |  Juice | 

    I’d like to know what was sexual about the situation.

  13. #13 |  CyniCAl | 

    This is what the tyranny of the majority looks like. Get used to more of same.

  14. #14 |  terrence | 

    “The prosecutor who charged these kids ought to lose his job.”

    Come on – he is in line to be made a JUDGE; he will be promoted for hwa the did in this case – just think of all the power he will have then.

  15. #15 |  JS | 

    It’s not normal for people to have to live their whole damn lives in fear; fear of being prosecuted for something (they may be doing their best to keep the laws and not even know if they’re breaking one) and fear of being sued for something. This shit ain’t normal!!! WTF is wrong with Americans that this has come to be the new normal?

  16. #16 |  Maggie McNeill | 

    I think if I were a 14-year-old boy under such an absurd onus, I’d drop off the grid as soon as I turned 18 and try to make a new life somewhere else.

  17. #17 |  Ilkka Kokkarinen | 

    Right on! First Cory Maye, then this: truly there is no limit to the depths that the American prosecutors can sink to. We are truly watching the descent of America to rival something that Hitler only dreamed of. Those smart Europeans, let alone all the people in Africa, Middle East or Asia, would never in a million years do anything this inane. And yet it seems that even in America, only libertarians even bother to keep watch over power-mad prosecutors gone over the edge.

    I mean, if an innocent teenage boy can’t initiate force to hold down two younger and smaller boys (and we know from our adult perspective that 12 and 14 are pretty much the same anyway) and press his bare ass on their faces without being branded a sex offender, pretty soon normal people can’t even pee in public any more. And it’s not like this poor guy, the true innocent victim of this case, did anything really serious that would truly reveal him to be a sexual creep worth of lifetime ostracism, such as approaching a woman in an elevator and asking her for a coffee, and then respecting her “No” for an answer. Ick.

    The whole thing is just one big slippery slope, I tell you, even without the obvious disturbing homophobic undertones of this case. Or does anybody here seriously deny that a straight guy forcing his bare ass on some woman’s face would have been anything but a fun prank and delightful horseplay? In fact, I would now demand that both the DA and those two nasty little bigoted whiny-ass complainants need to seriously check their privilege, examine their homophobia and attend diversity training sessions so that they learn to accept and celebrate their obvious latent homosexuality that caused them to react to this perfectly innocent prank so excessively.

  18. #18 |  Zargon | 

    Well, there’s two more future career criminals. Now the state can look forward to when they can throw them in a cage for real, 6 years down the line and out of other options to make rent, where they’ll experience some real “criminal sexual contact”.

    God bless the USA!

  19. #19 |  Old Fart | 

    Prosecutorial discretion is only used when the case involves possibly charging someone with, or related to someone with, a government job. Those of us working in the private sector will bear the full force of whatever law can be used to prosecute us.

  20. #20 |  Jerri Lynn Ward | 

    This happened in 2008. The story reads as if the boys are 14 now or did I miss something?

  21. #21 |  JSL | 

    “The prosecutor who charged these kids ought to lose his job.”

    At the very least IMHO.

    #16: That was my thought as well Maggie, they should disappear at 18 and start over.

  22. #22 |  Pierre | 

    “The prosecutor who charged these kids ought to lose his job.”

    How did this matter even come to the attention of the prosecutors’ office? Did the victim’s parents call the cops, instead of the other boys’ parents? Did the school get wind of this and take it to the police under the inviolable rule of zero-tolerance? The prosecutor was merely the last in a chain of robotic/panicky/ambitious folks. All should be flogged.

  23. #23 |  Difster | 

    Rather than lose his job, the judge should have his face sat on by a 400 pound bare assed man. …for about 15 minutes.

  24. #24 |  Randy | 

    to #19

    The story says the victims were 12 years old at the time of the incident. I would assume that the “perps” were about the same age at the time.

    It really is to the point where I have no respect for our criminal justice system. Nada. Zilch.

  25. #25 |  Kristen | 

    @Ilkka Kokkarinen

    Yay you and your reading comprehension fail! And yay you again for your authoritarian statist assholishness that demands punishment be taken out of the hands of parents and handed over to the ever-compassionate State! YAAAAAAAYYYY!

  26. #26 |  Dave Krueger | 

    The prosecutor who charged these kids ought to lose his job.

    The people who passed the law should lose their job, but they were elected by people who agree with the law and who will, therefore, reelect them. Hey, man, that’s what they mean when they say “government by the mob people”

  27. #27 |  Dal | 

    God I’m so tired of this “it’s the law..we have no choice” excuse. Funny how – if you’re a cop, politician, or rich fuck – they always manage to find an exception to that.

    I fear that this all just might be part of larger scheme to eventually put as many of us “little people” into the legal system as possible, make all of those who aren’t too afraid to do anything that isn’t explicitly authorized by our masters, and brainwash the public into reflexively reporting any such ‘unauthorized’ behavior to said authorities. Taken along with the ever-increasing militarization of the police, and the ongoing dismantling of civil liberties for the sake of the War on drugs/terror/pedophilia/racism/copywrite-infringement/etc., etc., etc., it isn’t hard to take that leap to grand conspiracy theory. It seems so universal at this point that makes me wonder if our rulers aren’t privy to some secret info about a looming global catastrophe that will require an iron grip on the masses…either that or the Powers-That-Be have collectively decided that this whole personal freedom thing is just so “20th Century”…

  28. #28 |  celticdragonchick | 

    I think if I were a 14-year-old boy under such an absurd onus, I’d drop off the grid as soon as I turned 18 and try to make a new life somewhere else.

    I agree. if I were a parent here, I would try to dissapear the family into Canada or elsewhere. This is obscene. I have an 11 year old son. He would think a butt on a face was funny. He has no clue how it might be sexual.

  29. #29 |  Rich | 

    Once again a complicit media refuses to name the name of the prosecutor so that the people would be able to hold him accountable.

  30. #30 |  JS | 

    In the 8th grade my brother put a condom filled with mayonaisse in the locker of the hottest girl in school. I remember getting out of the way as the school counselor was chasing him down the hall. It was hilarious and typically teenage boy stupid. Today he would probably be on some government sex offender registry.

  31. #31 |  JWF | 

    # 18: As I recall, having a man sit on your face was what would happen to you in prison in the movie Idiocracy. So I expect that by the time these young men land in “adult prison”, this will be the fate that awaits them. Everything else in that movie appears to be quickly coming true.

  32. #32 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    Time for children’s panels. If they can’t convince four of five teenagers that charges should be brough against the kid? *throws the charge away*

  33. #33 |  JS | 

    Leon Wolfeson “Time for children’s panels. If they can’t convince four of five teenagers that charges should be brough against the kid? *throws the charge away*”

    I have a better idea-reduce the number of cops by two thirds and about half the courts and eliminate about 75% of all current laws.

  34. #34 |  Ilkka Kokkarinen | 

    I don’t know if I have missed something, but I am old enough to remember a time when libertarians opposed initiation of force, such as forcing other people on the ground against their will and pressing your bare ass against their faces.

    Also, even though we adults consider 14 and 12 year-olds to be about identical kids, if you think back to when you were yourself 12, the differences in size and maturity to those two classes above you were pretty huge. The fact that this case reached the attention of the law enforcement and prosecution in turn tells me pretty clearly between the lines that it was a mere culmination of a long series of bullying and escalating violence whose details are really not at all difficult to imagine. And then when these bullies were suddenly made to face the consequences of their criminal actions, it all suddenly became innocent and funny horseplay of kids, done just for (utterly sadistic) “laughs”.

    But yeah, sure, whatevs. Just keep telling yourselves that there is absolutely nothing (homo)sexual in forcing your bare ass in somebody’s face. Who knows, that might even be the next winning election platform for libertarians.

  35. #35 |  EH | 

    “Next” winning election platform for libertarians? When has there ever been one?

  36. #36 |  JS | 

    Ilkka Kokkarinen “I don’t know if I have missed something, but I am old enough to remember a time when libertarians opposed initiation of force, such as forcing other people on the ground against their will and pressing your bare ass against their faces.”

    Who here approved of what that little douchebag did? I hate bullying as much as anybody, nobody is saying he shouldn’t be punished. But a sex offender? For life? WTF?

  37. #37 |  Marty | 

    #29 I emailed the county prosecutor’s office for more info…

  38. #38 |  Chris Mallory | 

    #33
    Ilkka,
    Sure if this happened at school, take the two 14 yo’s to the office, have the principal give them a couple swats with a paddle then turn them over to their parents.

    If it happened on the street, both sets of parents get together, bust the kid’s asses then it is done.

    No reason at all to to brand these kids for the rest of their lives.

  39. #39 |  KRF | 

    This was one of Rikishi’s finishing moves in the WWE. Whats the statute of limitations?

  40. #40 |  Robert | 

    to #33
    You’re absoultely correct, they were wrong. They should have gotten the death penalty. After all, wrong is wrong and we don’t want people who do anything wrong in our society. I think we should just make “death penalty” the default punishment for every crime… including speeding and jaywalking. After all, we can’t have viscious jaywalkers and speeders loose in our society. Let’s not forget to give the death penalty to any boys who draw a phallic symbol that another child might see as they are clearly purveyors of homoerotic pornography.

    Do you see what I did there?

  41. #41 |  Brandon | 

    #33, do you really see no substantive difference between punishing the kid for picking on other kids and forcing him on to a sex offender registry for the rest of his life? And why does “(Homo)” matter in the slightest degree here? Would it be more acceptable to you if he had held a girl down and sat on her face bare-assed?

  42. #42 |  Gawdy | 

    Everyone, get ready to call me names and ridicule and insult me for not sharing your collective opinion on this issue. I am sure you will be very clever about it.

    I was assaulted in a manner very similar to the one described in this case. A male teenager 5 1/2 years older than me pinned me down, pulled his pants off, and spread his bare buttocks on my face. He did this because he enjoyed the thrill of abusing someone smaller and basically helpless, and because he thought it was funny. For me, I as I lay there being suffocated under his grimy flesh, his scrotum across my nose and his rank smelling anus planted on my upper lip, it was a good deal less funny. I was deeply traumatized by this act, and had convulsive flashbacks and sentient revisitation to it for more than two decades. I got to experience a lifetime of disruption, dysfunction, and therapy so that this piece of garbage could get his kicks. I am glad to see this piece of dung prosecuted, and I do not believe that the ruin of his life is too great a punishment for him.

    I generally oppose sex offender registries because I believe they often do more harm than good. In this case I am glad to see them harming someone who truly deserves harm (for those of you who would say, “Aha, we got you, so you approve of the punitive aspect of this list in this case!”, the answer would be yes). I am shocked and alarmed to see how widely revered the bully culture is in this society. Those who harm and afflict others are either greatly respected and esteemed for their abuses or are bemusedly tolerated.

    One often hears the rationalization, “Oh, that’s just bullying” as if there is truly such a thing as “just” bullying. Bullying is assault, it is abuse, it is the patterned behavior of people who wish to destroy other people’s lives in order to provide recreation and amusement in their own. Bullies are cowards, the worst kind of scum. Though I generally disapprove of sex offender registries, I am glad that this bully is being harmed by one, and will have to wear its tarnishing stigma for almost as long as his victims (not just the ones in this case) may have to bear the trauma of his assaults.

  43. #43 |  Gawdy | 

    #37

    – Sure if this happened at school, take the two 14 yo’s to the office, have the principal give them a couple swats with a paddle then turn them over to their parents.

    If it happened on the street, both sets of parents get together, bust the kid’s asses then it is done. –

    Thank you for confirming my point. This is precisely the problem in the bully-worshipping culture in which we live. People want to indulge bullies, laughing it off as “just bullying” or “picking on each other” and pretending that a couple of swats or parental “busting” adequately addresses the problem. If parents have been willing to raise bullies they obviously are not the ones to be entrusted with the penal remediation of the bullies’ behavior. If someone wants to become a bully and live life as one who harms others, then society has every right to step in and address the matter. The abusive criminal’s parents be damned.

  44. #44 |  supercat | 

    The proper thing for the judge to have done, in the absence of more inculpatory evidence than is given here, would have been to announce that he believed that a reasonable jury, if asked whether the branding the defendant as a sex offender would be just and appropriate given the particulars of the case, or whether it would be cruel and unusual, would likely conclude it was the latter. As a fact finder, his job is to make the same fact findings as he would expect a jury to make, and consequently he must regard lifetime branding as a sex offender as cruel and unusual punishment in this particular case and refuse to impose it.

    Note that the appropriateness of a punishment is not just a question of law, but also a question of facts; a punishment which would be entirely just if a prosecutor’s witnesses are more truthful than the defendants’ may be patently unjust if the defendant’s witnesses are more truthful.

  45. #45 |  Gandolph | 

    I disagree with requiring these two little bastards to register as sex offenders simply because I do not believe that any such requirement should exist for anybody. I am glad, though that these two sex offenders are being prosecuted. The act they committed is a sexual assault, pure and simple. They are obviously repeat assailants who admit to believing that assaults on helpless victims are funny.

    There was a case in California several years ago involving an identical assault by a 14-year on a 9-year old. Nothing was done about this at the time and the assailant was left in his home to be disciplined by his obviously malignant parent. Two years later the assailant was locked up for forcing a hand-carved phallus up the rectum of an 8-year old and was subsequently wanted on a warrant for abduction and forcible rape. All three of these were sexual assaults by an habitual assailant. I would have been happy to see a prosecution for any of them including the assault he committed when he was 14.

  46. #46 |  homeboy | 

    @ #44 – Supercat

    “The proper thing for the judge to have done, in the absence of more inculpatory evidence than is given here”

    You mean evidence more inculpatory than a detailed and uncoerced confession of the crime by the perpetrators, multiple witness and victim accounts, and elements of the crime undisputed by all parties?

  47. #47 |  JS | 

    Gawdy that’s horrible but no one here is saying “Oh that’s just bullying” or that he shouldn’t be punished. The outrage is over the sex offender for life thing.

  48. #48 |  Maggie McNeill | 

    #42: Sorry, Gawdy, but I disagree. I’ve been raped, which I think most people would agree is more serious than what happened to you or those little bullies’ victims, yet I still don’t believe my rapists should be on a sex offender registry for life. It’s called “proportionality”. The only crime that deserves an entire life ruined is the total ruination of another life. For the state to do what it’s doing is like sitting on those kids’ faces for life in return for their asinine, nasty actions of a few minutes, and that isn’t proportionate by any stretch of the imagination.

  49. #49 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #48 Maggie McNeill

    The only crime that deserves an entire life ruined is the total ruination of another life.

    By today’s standard, “total ruination of another life” happens when a child is inadvertently exposed to pornography or made fun of by a classmate. I hear they can actually x-ray their little brains immediately after such an incident and see the changes that have occurred because of it.

    Of course, the fact that it’s a sex crime is the most critical factor. If, instead of sitting on someone’s face they had simply beaten the shit out of the kid or terrorized him in some other way, he would never have been sentenced to a lifetime of state sanctioned public persecution.

  50. #50 |  Mattocracy | 

    I’m guessing that pantsing or giving a kid a wedgie will get you a sexual assault charge too now.

  51. #51 |  Appletony | 

    Ilkka Kokkarinen is possibly right. We as readers of the one-sided report have no idea how coercive and degrading the “just for laughs” episode was. The victims may well be scarred for life in the way that being subject to severe and sexually degrading bullying may cause. We as after-the-fact rubberneckers can never know…

  52. #52 |  Nancy Lebovitz | 

    It’s true that the first batch of comments took the point of view that sitting one’s naked ass on someone’s face doesn’t count as a serious assault. Would would the consensus have been if a police officer had done it?

    Leaving it to the parents to deal with it is not adequate. Some parents support their kids’ bullying.

  53. #53 |  Dave Krueger | 

    I think the anger at the prosecutor is misplaced. I agree that simply blowing this off and letting the parents handle it would be insufficient and the prosecutor could rightly face some public anger if he let it go. The real problem is that the law makes this into a crime punishable with a life sentence and that’s not the prosecutor’s fault. He didn’t make the law. But, because of the rigidity of the law, there is no room for adapting the sentence to the seriousness of the assault. Mere nudity is all it takes to qualify as a sex crime (and this case goes beyond that), the penalty was going to be irrationally severe. Americans are obsessed with sex.

    Sex offender registries condemn people to the certainty of never being able to redeem themselves and live normal lives. They don’t even treat murders that severely and regardless of how humiliating or gross this act was, there is no way anyone is going to convince me that it rises to the level of murder.

    What makes this worth discussing is not that the prosecutor charged the kids, but that the penalty is, by itself, an incredibly harsh punishment for a 14 year old kid, who under other circumstances would be considered too young to even consent to a sexual act. This schizophrenic view of kids being innocent children when we want them to be victims and ruthless sociopathic adults when we want to crucify them is confusing enough to the courts without expecting adolescents to be able to grasp it.

  54. #54 |  supercat | 

    #46 | homeboy | July 20th, 2011 at 7:30 pm “You mean evidence more inculpatory than a detailed and uncoerced confession of the crime by the perpetrators, multiple witness and victim accounts, and elements of the crime undisputed by all parties?”

    I mis-attributed the appeals-court judge’s statement to the trial-court judge. I would suggest that the appeals court judge in a case like this should perhaps suggest that it is not his job to second-guess a trial court’s judgment as to whether the particulars of the defendant’s conduct were sufficiently heinous as to justify a sentence, absent some reason to believe that the trial court judge had failed to consider something he should have.

  55. #55 |  Gawdy | 

    #48

    No need to be sorry, Maggie, I just believe that you are fundamentally wrong.

    “It’s called “proportionality”’

    No, Maggie, “It” is not called proportionality; what you are referring to is only your notion of proportionality. Legal minds differ as to what proportionality means. Some have the skewed vision that proportionality would dictate an offender be punished in a manner that causes no more suffering than it can be proven he caused his victims. Others note that this vision spares the retributive aspect of criminal punishment and diminishes the value of victims and their suffering. These latter theorists correctly note that a punishment should be proportional to the act committed, and not to the suffering caused by the transgressor. They recognize that there should generally be a greater margin of punishment meted upon the transgressor than was caused to the victim. This puts the punishment in proportion to the criminal act in the same way that the total repayment amount of a loan is always proportional to the principal amount borrowed; it occurs in a proportional yet always greater amount.

    “The only crime that deserves an entire life ruined is the total ruination of another life”

    Your moral reasoning is suspect here, for it implies that it is wrong to punish abusers more severely than they abused their victims. But even if your reasoning were sound, it still would not affect this case because the ruination of lives is the topic we are discussing. The savage impact of bullying ruins people’s lives. It often deprives people of any capacity to enjoy a meaningful life, and sometimes robs people of their lives entirely. Personally I would be fine with the state sentencing these little fecal impactions to a lifetime of having a big, filthy brute face squat them in a squalid cell somewhere. But even that is not what we are talking about. We are talking about a lifetime of stigma, not total ruination.

    By the way, I have no reason to believe that the rape you report at some point in your life was more traumatic or harmful than what I suffered in the tender vulnerability of my childhood.

  56. #56 |  homeboy | 

    @ #53, Dave Krueger

    Truly an excellent comment in nearly all respects, Mr. Krueger. The only departure I would take from your position is that the punishment is incredibly harsh for these offenders. I believe that lifetime registration of sex offenders is ill-advised and counter-productive, and should be eliminated as a practice based on policy and social equity grounds. I don’t think that the particular effects of such a registration are “incredibly harsh” for anyone who would hold helpless children captive and sexually assault them.

    Other than that, however, I agree with every point you raised in your extremely perceptive and insightful commentary.

  57. #57 |  homeboy | 

    @ #54, Supercat

    I would agree with you entirely here.

  58. #58 |  homeboy | 

    @ #55, Gawdy

    An extremely well reasoned and well informed post. One thing you could have added is the fact that the whole idea of proportionality is subject to ongoing polemics and debate in legal circles. The “proportionality requirement” of the Constitution actually doesn’t appear in the Constitution; it is merely a contrivance of case law. Many analysts (myself included) don’t perceive or acknowledge a proportionality requirement to exist in the Constitution, and don’t see the merit in constraining legislatures or sentencing judges on the basis of such subjective sentiments.

  59. #59 |  homeboy | 

    @ #47, JS

    “Gawdy that’s horrible but no one here is saying “Oh that’s just bullying” or that he shouldn’t be punished.”

    Actually, JS, I have read a number of comments in this thread that basically state those very things.

  60. #60 |  JS | 

    homeboy I went and read up to my comment #47 and I don’t see anyone stating that. Most of the posters (myself included) were so outraged by the severity of the punishment that we didn’t really comment on how bad the act itself was and I guess we should have made it more clear that what was done was a serious act of bullying. But I don’t see where anybody claimed it was just no big deal. Sorry if I missed it.

  61. #61 |  Ken Hagler | 

    I’m generally in agreement with Gawdy and Ilkka on this one.

    I dislike the registries for their unintended consequences too, but this is clearly _not_ an unintended consequence. This isn’t a case of two 14 year olds having consensual sex and having their lives ruined by religious fanatics, it’s a case of someone who was charged with a crime “to degrade or humiliate the victim” who had specifically confessed that doing so was his intent.

    I notice the original article makes no mention of how much prison time the disgusting little monsters got, but I doubt it will be much given the culture in which it happened. I expect they have a long and bright future ahead of them as TSA gropers in another four years.

    Now, if one of the victims had illegally defended himself and the prosecutor was charging him with killing the despicable filth, _then_ I’d think the prosecutor should lose his job.

  62. #62 |  Maggie McNeill | 

    #55: Those who commit second or third degree murder are not sentenced to a lifetime of punishment, therefore you are claiming that bullying is more serious than those forms of murder. I can’t argue with a person who makes such a claim, nor with one who claims that even the creepiest, most disgusting form of bullying which does not involve sexual penetration is more severe than aggravated rape, which is a form of bullying accompanied by penetration and actual fear of death.

    You have allowed your emotions to cloud your reason, and it is therefore impossible to discuss this subject with you by means of reason. Good life and good luck to you, and I hope you one day learn to let go of your trauma as I have.

  63. #63 |  Gawdy | 

    #62

    “you are claiming that bullying is more serious than…murder. I can’t argue with a person who makes such a claim”

    Nor are you arguing with such a person here. I never made such a claim, and you are merely putting words in my mouth. It must make it much easier for you to argue with me than it would be were you to stick with the facts.

    “nor with one who claims that even the creepiest, most disgusting form of bullying which does not involve sexual penetration is more severe than aggravated rape”

    Nor did I make that claim; I only stated that it had not been shown to me that that the rape you report at some point in your life was more traumatic or harmful than what I suffered in the tender vulnerability of my childhood. That is still the case, and my view is consistent with a number of mental health professionals.

    “which is a form of bullying accompanied by penetration and actual fear of death”

    You apparently have adopted penetration as a litmus test for declaring an act of trauma and violation to be of unsurpassed order and magnitude. I do not share your endorsement of this standard, and have found the actual fear of death attendant to a helpless child being smothered by the filthy anal-genital region of an outsize attacker to be quite traumatizing enough. The fact that you are able to refer to your trauma as something that you were volitionally able to “let go of” suggests strongly that your trauma was perhaps not as severe or as deeply seated as mine was.

    “You have allowed your emotions to cloud your reason”

    You obviously have the shoe on the wrong foot with this one, for my arguments and presentation have clearly adhered more closely and strictly to facts and reason than yours have.

    “it is therefore impossible to discuss this subject with you by means of reason”

    What you mean to write here is that you find it difficult to bring me to a state of fawning acquiescence to your self-appointed, self-privileged espousals of ill reason. Your blatant, backhanded dodge is too obvious to require further comment. I hope you one day learn to let go of your affected sense of singular appointment and condescension, and are able to address others more honestly in the future. Good life and good luck to you.

  64. #64 |  Gandolph | 

    I thought it was pretty much common knowledge that doing violence to a child can be more traumatizing than just about anything you can do to an adult. I have heard psychologists say so numerous times.

  65. #65 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #64 Gandolph

    I thought it was pretty much common knowledge that doing violence to a child can be more traumatizing than just about anything you can do to an adult. I have heard psychologists say so numerous times.

    Ah, yes. I remember a time when psychologists held that homosexuality was a mental illness and masturbation needed treatment. An industry that periodically defines, undefines, and renames, by committee decree (ie: politics), what constitutes a mental defect doesn’t hold a lot of sway over my thinking.

    And I have also heard about studies, mostly regarding their response to traumatic events, that children are, in fact, extremely resilient and that the crisis counseling, that has become so trendy these days, is largely for the benefit of the industry more so than the people being counseled. What a surprise, huh?

    The world is full of children who weather extended exposure to war, poverty, abuse, crime, being bounced from foster home to foster home, deaths in the family, and even the abuse at the hands of the state whose mission is supposedly to protect them. In that context, the idea of sentencing a 14 year old to a life of perpetual persecution for a single prank that, while humiliating, coercive, and inexcusable, inflicted no bodily harm is disproportionately harsh and serves no purpose other than fulfilling the “because we can” mentality.

    Megan’s Law is the codification of the mob mentality. I defines some people as subhuman and, therefore, fair game for treatment that would otherwise be considered unfathomable. The two key ingredients that open the door to such legislation are sex and children, which is why mere homicide will not get you on the list.

  66. #66 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Crap. Only the first paragraph above was supposed to be quoted. Sorry.

  67. #67 |  JS | 

    Gandolph #64, I’m sure it is. That’s why bullying is so horrible, it leaves lifelong scars. I’m still not convinced school bullies should be put on a sex offender registry for life. It needs to be dealt with but there has to be a better way than that.

  68. #68 |  JS | 

    Other than your obvious cut and paste deficiency Dave, you win the thread!

  69. #69 |  Maggie McNeill | 

    #63: OK, let’s put this a different way: One simply can’t argue with a person who claims that one kid sitting on another kid’s face should be punished for life, unlike rape and murder, simply because it happened to him. And unless you support lifelong registration for all violent crimes (which is a different issue entirely), that is indeed what you’re saying no matter how you parse it. However, I’m not prepared to argue with a person who is so obviously emotionally invested in the issue, therefore we must agree to disagree.

  70. #70 |  IllyAlley | 

    Hi JS,

    I think you need to check your judge’s card at the door. You have Dave winning this thread, which is like having Tyson losing the first round to Spinks. Also, you appear to be arguing a shill here; Gandolph, Gawdy, and virtually everyone else you are retorting to has already stated their disapproval of sex offender registries. What they have been discussing is the nature of the crimes committed by these lowlifes and whether or not the incidental effects of a sex offender registry is too severe for them. The appropriateness of sex offender registries is not even on the table.

    Gandolph, I know that your position is common among mental health authorities. In fact, among a large contingent of child psychiatrists it is virtually axiomatic. My step-mother-in-law is a child psychiatrist who runs a state-sponsored psychiatric aid program for the Polish school system. She was also a rape victim as a young woman in the 1960s, and lived through the destruction of her city during World War II. She will be the first to tell you that highly particularized traumas sustained by children can potentially be more devastating than anything experienced as an adult, including her own rape.

    So, Dave, this was merely “a single prank” (JS, you were looking for examples of people minimizing the nature and severity of this crime)? It reads much more like a vicious sexual assault to me. And the singularly determinative standard of the severity of an assault on a child is permanent bodily harm (excluding psychosomatic effects)? I wouldn’t think that is the case.

    I find it interesting that you refer to war, poverty, assignment to foster homes, abusive state systems, etc., as if one can classify internalized trauma on the basis of external factors indexed by their appearance of severity. A key factor you are missing here is the internalization element. I already mentioned my step-mother-in-law, who published a widely influential study on the functional, developmental differences between generalized/external and individually particularized/internal trauma. She notes that generalized conditions such as war, famine, social upheaval, etc., while potentially traumatic, do not necessarily destroy critical elements of a child’s self-identity, because they are not focused specifically upon that child. When a child is forced to internalize the focused, particularized reprobation of his or her specific right to live and be, and is forced to internalize the specific, targeted intent to destroy his or her self-identity, _that_ is when the greatest damage is done.

    Ultimately, comparing the effects of war on a child to the particularized effects of the trauma experienced by Gawdy and possibly the victims of this sexual assault may be like comparing apples and oranges. One child may emerge from a famine emotionally intact, while another may never recover from the savagery visited upon him or her by cruel foster parents. One child may weather the ravages of war in fine shape, while another may be permanently disabled by the abuse experienced in an affluent household. Knowing what I do of the clinical data, I would rather my child experience the tumult of war than endure targeted, particularized abuse.

    I realize that you may find all of this to be nothing more than useless sophistry. You suggest that mental health researchers and clinicians the world over are categorically incompetent because of the religiously derived idiosyncrasies found in the history of Anglo-occidental psychology. I cannot prove you are wrong, though I suspect you are. It seems to me that people can learn a great deal about the development of the human mind and behavior from years of devoted clinical study. In the alternative, if earnest study and the committed pursuit and development of fruitful research modalities are spurious and ineffective, then I guess it is just a free-for-all. The most thoughtful, empirically active students of mental processes are no more qualified in their opinion than a thoughtless drunk on a street corner. You say that the clinicians and I are wrong, and of course we say that you are wrong. I find it interesting though that after all of that, you are still willing to cite clinical studies.

    I would like to end this on a note of agreement with you. I agree wholeheartedly with your observations regarding crisis counseling. The pertinence of those observations to the present discussion eludes me, but I agree with you nonetheless. I also join Gandolph, Gawdy, homeboy, Ken Hagler and others in their agreement with you that sex offender registries are generally a bad idea (though I take their side that consigning these punks’ names to one does not comprise more punishment than they deserve).

  71. #71 |  Dave Krueger | 

    By “internalized”, I gather that you mean only professional industry specialists are able to see it. How convenient for the industry. Reminds me of GhostBusters. Or better yet, the senior clergy of the Catholic Church.

    Also, I appreciate your quoting my use of the word “simple prank” and conveniently leaving out the other descriptors that I used, to wit, “humiliating, coercive, and inexcusable”. What is simple is my point: that the penalty of being placed on the sex offender’s registry for life is beyond excessive for the crime and I stand by that opinion.

    I also take issue with your assertion that “the appropriateness of sex offender registries is not even on the table”. If there are people discussing it, it’s on the table. That you don’t believe it should be on the table is irrelevant.

  72. #72 |  John | 

    This is not my idea of a “humiliating, coercive, and inexcusable single prank.” In that category I would include things like trashing someone’s locker. This occurrence is my idea of assault. Those kids who are forcibly held down with someone’s butt on their faces don’t exactly know that there will be no bodily harm inflicted. All they know at the time is that they are fully in the power of someone else. You know what else does no bodily harm? Things like waterboarding. I don’t know about life-time punishment, but given that the laws are what they are and the choice of the prosecutor is a binary thing, I believe that the prosecutor did right.

  73. #73 |  ParatrooperJJ | 

    I suggest reading the actual opinion, the boys tried to shove their penises into the other kids mouth.

  74. #74 |  Dave Krueger | 

    In the minds of the kids, it was a prank. I agree that it rises to the level of an assault and I never claimed that it didn’t. My point, something that seems to be repeatedly overlooked no matter how often I repeat it, is that the punishment was excessive for someone who, under other circumstances, would be declared too young to be entirely responsible for his actions.

    If this were a case of one kid punching out another kid (ie: also violent assault), I doubt anyone in this discussion would be arguing in favor of branding the kid for life. So what’s the difference? My guess is that it’s the sexual element of this case. Americans just can’t help but get stupid when it comes to sex (especially when kids are involved). Add sex into the mix and suddenly the rules are all different and the perp is fair game for anything you can throw at him.

    If you want to equate this to waterboarding, be my guest. I don’t intend to even bother with that comment.

    Regarding your last point, as I said, “the anger at the prosecutor is misplaced”. My argument is with the law itself.

  75. #75 |  John | 

    The waterboarding was to suggest that perhaps the amount of bodily harm is irrelevant to the issue at hand.

  76. #76 |  b | 

    my sympathies rest entirely with the victims in this matter, none left over for the perps. this is due to childhood experiences which shaped who i am today. i acknowledge systemic flaws in the sex offender registration laws, but i have no problem applying them to these perps. once a year when they register, they’ll have the opportunity to reflect on their decision to shove their anus onto someone’s face.

  77. #77 |  CK | 

    Someday the young lad who face sat the younger lads will meet a person who relishes fresh rocky mountain oysters. Mayhap the proportionality can be discussed after that meeting is over. A fine chianti is not required.

  78. #78 |  Frank | 

    I think the judge is jealous. He was not lucky to have some chick sit on his face when he was a kid… lol… now he is angry and upset and throwing a fit and trying to ruin these kids life….hehehe.. Stupid. The judges mind should be tracked and spied upon every minute and moment, to see what his feeling is when a women with a nice bottom sits beside him and stares at him:)

  79. #79 |  Ilkka Kokkarinen | 

    “This isn’t a case of two 14 year olds having consensual sex and having their lives ruined by religious fanatics, it’s a case of someone who was charged with a crime “to degrade or humiliate the victim” who had specifically confessed that doing so was his intent.”

    Indeed, this case simply could not be more clear cut, even when it is told Rashomon-style from the sympathetic point of view of the parents of the villain who, of course, shows a very different face at home to his parents than he does to his victims. We can only imagine what it would be like when told from the point of view of the victims (for example, see Gawdy at #42).

    “And why does “(Homo)” matter in the slightest degree here? Would it be more acceptable to you if he had held a girl down and sat on her face bare-assed?”

    Thing is, it does seem to matter, for some funny reason. If the victim had been female, I am pretty sure that the sexual aspect would not have gone unnoticed even by libertarians.

    “Those who commit second or third degree murder are not sentenced to a lifetime of punishment”

    Irrelevant. Second and third degree murder are more severe crimes than the bullying that was described here, yes, but they are not sexual offenses, and thus don’t entail a sex offender status.

    The purpose of the sex offender status is to protect other people from those who have a proven track record of sexual offenses and are therefore a high risk of committing such crimes again. This status is independent of the “severity” of the crime.

    For example, a person who compulsively masturbates in public in front of other people does not “harm” anybody except in an aesthetic sense, and yet few people (well, few non-libertarians) have any problem of slapping the sex offender status on such a person, despite the fact that he is less “harmful” than the bullies of this case. There is no contradiction whatsoever in giving these bullies a lifetime sex offender status, while not granting it to somebody who commits a far more serious but non-sexual crime, for example robs a bank or embezzles a billion dollars from senior citizens.

    Also, sex offenders evolve during their lifetimes. Nobody is born a full-fledged Ted Bundy. If the guy is already a psychopath like this at 14, we can only imagine what he will be like at 25, living in another town a thousand miles away. The people around him then, and the cops enforcing the law in that place, will probably thank this DA for making sure they received an advance warning. Which is the exact purpose of a lifetime sex offender registry in a country of 300 million people and thousands of miles wide.

    “Ilkka Kokkarinen is possibly right. We as readers of the one-sided report have no idea how coercive and degrading the “just for laughs” episode was.”

    As I said, the fact that this case reached the attention of law enforcement and led to prosecution makes it a reasonably safe bet that it was merely a culmination of a long series of escalating violence towards not just these victims, but most likely a whole bunch of others also. And that from our adult viewpoint, it is too easy to see these 14-year-olds as just “innocent kids”, even though to their 12-year-old victims, they are halfway adults already.

    There is also a lot more to say about the curious societal absurdity of how “kids” are allowed to do things that, were the exact same things ever done by adults, would instantly be prosecuted as assault, extortion, theft, robbery, torture or sexual assault and result in several years of hard prison time, but perhaps that’s for another time.

  80. #80 |  homeboy | 

    @ #73, ParatrooperJJ

    Ah, there you go cluttering the issue with facts. Apparently, you have not read enough of this thread to realize that the proper way to conduct yourself here is to engage in seriatim logical fallacies such as ad hominem and strawman argumentation. When you still find yourself unable to counter a solid argument on factual or otherwise reasonable grounds, you should resort to claims that your opponent cannot be argued with because of his emotional investment (while at the same time let your own emotional investment scream out at an audible level of 190db). If that does not work, then declare that you remind yourself of Ghostbusters or the Roman Catholic clergy with something you just made up. Oh, also be sure to denigrate objections to a pattern of deliberate misrepresentation as evasive “parsing.” You see, thoughtless sanctimony and logical fallacies, not factual, well reasoned arguments, carry the day here, my friend.

    If you pulled up the original opinion, I imagine you may have also found the brief that mentions one of the victims suffered an ongoing, post-traumatic gag reflex after having a perpetrator nearly twice his size attempt to force his penis into his mouth. But don’t let that sway your opinion here…the fact is that this was merely a “single prank,” and not a concerted sexual assault committed by two probably habitual sex offenders (or, to forestall a completely meaningless protest, it was merely a “single prank…no matter how humiliating, coercive, and inexcusable” such pranks might theoretically be).

    You see, pinning down two helpless children, then taking turns in attempting to manually force open their jaws while your partner tries to force his turgid penis into a victim’s mouth as he closes that victim’s nostrils through pressure applied by his anus, is all part of a single, frolicsome (though perhaps theoretically coercive and objectionable) prank. Do NOT try to distort that into the patterned, systematic behavior typical of vicious sexual predators. I mean, how could you even think to do that?

  81. #81 |  homeboy | 

    @ #60, JS

    “Call it bullying”

    This isn’t worthy of criminal punishment, so ““the prosecutor who charged these kids ought to lose his job,” or far worse.

    Hell, this is just like “skinny dipp[ing] in…quarries, moon[ing] people, [and going] streaking.” Only a “fucking prosecutor who has still managed to not (sic) get laid” would view this as a crime.

    In “these kinds of cases,” the perpetrator is “someone [we] know is perfectly normal.”

    Call this “horseplay.”

    These perpetrators were no more “sexual deviants” than “the kids whose faces were sat on.”

    How could such a trifling “matter even come to the attention of the prosecutors’ office? The prosecutor…should be flogged.”

    This conduct is merely akin to other behavior that is “hilarious and typically teenage boy stupid.”

    These kids should receive nothing more than “a couple swats” or maybe some “bust[ing]” from their parents.

    All they were doing was “picking on other kids.”

    This is just “roughhousing.”

    This was not a serious, vicious sex crime, but only a “single prank.”

    JS, I do not know if it is you or I who missed something here, but I do not believe that the dismissive, minimizing tone of these comments can be controverted. I agree with Nancy Lebovitz @ #52, finding that, “It’s true that the first batch of comments took the point of view that [this] doesn’t count as a serious assault.” It was recurrently intoned that even caring to prosecute this case was an act of “tyranny,” and it should be patently ignored by the state (it was even called “assholish” to feel it warranted the state’s attention). This crime was repeatedly diminished to a point where it was just two “normal” kids who were “roughhousing” or “horsing around,” engaged in play essentially as innocuous and innocent as skinny dipping. Many saw it as worthy of registering nothing more than a small blip on some deficient parents’ radar screen.

    For what it is worth, if you are going to declare “winners” in this thread, I believe you must award the title to co-recipients, Illka, Gawdy, and ParatrooperJJ. They are the ones who did the best job of calmly adducing facts and reason in their arguments, and did not show the propensity for self-inflicted wounds that their opponents did.

  82. #82 |  Ilkka Kokkarinen | 

    “It’s true that the first batch of comments took the point of view that sitting one’s naked ass on someone’s face doesn’t count as a serious assault. Would would the consensus have been if a police officer had done it?”

    I freaking can’t believe I missed this comment on my previous reading of this thread. Now this one is the true winner of this thread, hands down (well, I guess it’s “ass down”), and right now I am simultaneously howling in laughter and kicking myself of not thinking it up myself.

  83. #83 |  Dave Krueger | 

    While you guys certainly seem to be devoid of any capacity to understand the objection people have to the sex offender registry, you are masters at illustrating the role sex plays in the public mentality that makes these laws so incredibly attractive to politicians. So, in that sense, you definitely are the winners of this argument.

  84. #84 |  homeboy | 

    @ #83, Dave Krueger

    Dave, you just keep shooting yourself in the foot. Many of us have already bent over backwards to voice and detail our principled objections to sex offender registries. Yet, somehow, you find that we have no capacity to understand objections to sex registries, when we ourselves are among the list’s most elucidating objectors? And you suggest that by recognizing this patent case of sexual assault to be what it is somehow shows our untoward fixation on sex? Truly, WTF?

    I can never understand argumentative approaches such as yours. Why not just stop and be honest for a moment? It is not as if you have any hope of making people forget the facts and our own dispositions to them just by spouting such easily falsifiable palaver. The reasons your opponents won the argument is simply because they were more honest, showed the greater fidelity to the facts, and adduced those facts in a more reasonable and constructive manner than you did. Period.

  85. #85 |  Tatiana Covington | 

    They should simply refuse to so register. “Why? Because WE DON’T FEEL LIKE IT!”

  86. #86 |  Frank | 

    I think people forgot that Bush sat on our faces butt naked for eight years and we couldn’t do nothing… He farted and left the presidency and the whole beautiful America is going down the hill. Has he been judged for mass bare bottom facesitting? NO… he got away. I am glad Obama is wipping our tears and trying to fix the mess.

  87. #87 |  John | 

    Penises into mouth? The article quoted by Radley doesn’t mention that. Can you post a reference?

  88. #88 |  varmintito | 

    I think context is crucial.

    I was bullied in jr. high and the memory of it can still make me furious and want to slowly kill the human garbage who robbed me of my dignity and sense of safety for a year.

    On the other hand, I was the patsy in a college ritual called “atomic sit-ups” and saw and stiil see it as a disgusting but basically good-humored prank, because it was done among friends who knew me well enough to believe I could handle it (short version: the perps bet the patsy he can’t do an atomic sit up, which is a situp with a towel over your face with two guys standing on either end. Patsy accepts the dare, while he is straining to do a sit up, perp #3 squats bare assed a few inches above. The towel is jerked away. Hijinks ensue.)

    If my tormentors had done that to me in 8th grade, it would have been pretty much what happened in this case. It would have been orders of magnitude worse than the bullying I actually endured.

    Context is important here the same way it is when the CIA repeatedly waterboarded terrorists versus special forces trainers waterboarding trainees. One is torture, the other is not. I get really angry when a certain brand of asshole argues that waterboarding a prisoner can’t be torture because special forces recruits submit to it.

    All of which is a long-winded way of saying that the context of the actions in this case make it clear it was not a prank, and was a serious as a heart attack felony.

    BTW, I think sex offender registration is mostly useless and often counterproductive. It is premised on the idea that any crime with a sexual angle is bound to be repeated. There are some compulsive sex offenders, but my understanding is that in the aggregate the frequency of sex crime recidivism is significantly overblown.

  89. #89 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Look, as many times as I’ve already said this, I’ll be damned as to why I should have to explain it again. My argument is simple. The crime doesn’t deserve the penalty of a lifetime membership on the sex offender registry. It’s really, really, really just that simple.

    You can focus all you want on the fact that my characterization of the crime differs from yours. You can zero in on my use of the word prank. Go for it. I just don’t really give a shit. It’s mostly irrelevant because even if I were in perfect alignment with you on the seriousness of it, it wouldn’t matter one wit to my argument.

    My argument still stands as I stated it. The penalty, as required by the law, is excessive. It’s excessive because because it denies two 14 year old kids any chance of redemption FOREVER. That is the defining characteristic of sex offender registries and it’s the absolute center of my contention about the penalty being excessive. And it’s the precisely the sexual element of the crime that qualifies it for that excessive penalty. It is also the sexual element that animates the mob mentality that has made this brand of justice so exceedingly popular (and almost universally rationalized).

    So, you can take it or leave it, but I’m done explaining it.

  90. #90 |  b | 

    dave, it isn’t our fault. the experience of being bullied in childhood fries some of our empathy and compassion circuits, making us more detached and indifferent. everybody has a tale of woe that would bring tears to the eyes of a sphinx.

    i am somewhat libertarian, but i reject the hardcore ethos that the strong should eat the weak in a state of nature, deriding those pesky, misguided laws that prohibit me from grabbing you on the streetcorner, forcing you to the ground, dropping my drawers, sitting on your face and touching my penis to your lips. just horseplay, i know, and i have heard that line before.

    an assault of this nature transcends time and space, it’ll be recounted on facebook, and forty years later at his class reunion, the vic will still be mister assface, so why not afford to him the small consolation that his assailants will be going through life as mister pervert, which is worse. we cannot free the former from his estate, so why bother with the latter?

    please spare the shrill hyperbole about ruined lives, while the government security clearance may be off the table, they can still be musicians or construction workers. from whence came this exquisite handwringing of butthurt blogistas providing sympathy and succor to bullies? they don’t deserve it.

  91. #91 |  homeboy | 

    @ #88, Dave Krueger

    Good, I am glad that you are done vacillating and reposturing (or, as some might euphemize, explaining). Go for it! I will consider the issue closed.

  92. #92 |  homeboy | 

    Dave, just one last thought, this crime really does deserve the penalty of a lifetime membership on the sex offender registry, even though the registry itself is a bad idea. It really, really, really is just that simple.

  93. #93 |  homeboy | 

    @ #87, varmintito

    “BTW, I think sex offender registration is mostly useless and often counterproductive. It is premised on the idea that any crime with a sexual angle is bound to be repeated. There are some compulsive sex offenders, but my understanding is that in the aggregate the frequency of sex crime recidivism is significantly overblown.”

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Further, even where sex offense recidivism occurs, it generally does so in a regulatory environment where sexual offender registries are maintained. This obviates any claim that sexual offender registries prevent recidivism, because of they did recidivism simply would not occur. Frankly, there is no legitimate, empirical data showing that sex offender registries function either to prevent sex crimes or to to make apprehension efforts more effective when they do occur. There are numerous policy considerations that weigh against the maintenance of such registries, and little, if anything, to recommend them in principle. They isolate and stigmatize sex crimes by statute, and create unequal rules regarding the finitude of punishment.

    But, as you correctly state, the criminal actors here are not pranksters, but serious-as-a-heart-attack felons; vicious, predatory scum. I have no sympathy for them. They are not being punished too severely, and deserve every minute that they may spend on the (albeit, foolish and ill advised) offender registries maintained in whatever jurisdictions they might reside in the future.

  94. #94 |  John | 

    It’s not all about you, Dave. The original Radley’s article blames the prosecutor, and Radley hasn’t come back to this thread to make a better case.

  95. #95 |  John Markley | 

    I don’t think those boys should be put on a lifetime sex offenders list, because I don’t think ANY violent offender should be put in a government registry that permanently deprives them of their civil rights after their actual sentence for the crime is over. But the way people are trivializing the crime itself is pretty disgusting.

    Registry laws are bad because they do an end-run around due process, destroy nearly any chance of offenders eventually being reformed into productive members of society, and often destroy the lives of people who have harmed no one or committed some extremely petty crime like public urination. But if someone who supported registration laws stumbled on this post and subsequent comments and came away with the impression that we mostly oppose sex offender registries because we simply don’t care about sexual assault, I’d find it hard to blame him.

  96. #96 |  CK | 

    Due process should be restricted to people who did not enjoy the crimes they committed. Voluble repentance and or the finding of an affectionate deity should be enough amelioration; hair shirts not required.

  97. #97 |  varmintito | 

    Also, sex offender registration isn’t even the worst legislative response to sex crimes. Post-incarceration civil confinement takes the cake.

    Basically, the defendants is convicted, serves his time, butinstead of being released, the prosecutor applies to have him civilly committed on the ground that he remains a danger to the community. A psychiatric expert examines the defendant, and if he agrees with the prosecutor, the defendant is then transferred to a lockdown psychiatric facility until he is declared to no longer be a threat to recommit.

    Needless to say, this is absolute bullshit. In real life terms, it is the law giving the prosecution a do-over on sentencing.

    If the defendant needed to be in a lockdown psychiatric facility (or, if you are nostalgic for the old term, an asylum for the criminally insane), then he should never have been convicted, but should instead have been found not guilty by reason of insanity.

    A criminal conviction presupposes that the defendant knew the wrongful character of his act and was capable of refraining, but chose to commit the crime. This is the go/no go of an insanity defense. Which, by extension, means that allowing the defendant to be convicted and sent to prison should treated as a conclusive finding that is capable of refraining from recommitting, and therefore cannot be civilly confined.

    I am not aware of this bait and switch being applied to anything other than sex crimes.

  98. #98 |  homeboy | 

    @ #45, John Markley

    “Registry laws are bad because they do an end-run around due process”

    How so? What other procedural elements (beyond arrest, hearing, trial, conviction, and appeal) would the Constitution require before allowing the mandatory registration of these defendants’ names?

    “Registry laws are bad because they…destroy nearly any chance of offenders eventually being reformed into productive members of society”

    John, can you provide us with any direct evidence that there is a substantial chance to reform sex offenders? Presumably, the only ones in need of reform are those who are somehow capable of recidivism. Your burden, therefore, would be to show that there is some likelihood of reforming a potentially recidivist sex offender. If you can meet this, can you then show us the means by which sex offender registries destroy that chance or likelihood?

    “Registry laws are bad because they…often destroy the lives of people who have harmed no one or committed some extremely petty crime like public urination.”

    Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding! We have a winner! This is one of several clearly demonstrable reasons for which sex offender registries are an irretrievably bad idea.

  99. #99 |  Gandolph | 

    For John, post 87

    This is from the trial transcript, and is confirmed by a series of depositions. To my knowledge, this testimony went unchallenged by the defense.

    “A. He — [S.R.] was holding me down, so I
    couldn’t move. So he kind of pulled
    part of his pants down and sat on me,
    sat on my face.
    Q. Okay. With his bare butt?
    A. Yes.
    Q. Okay. At any point did any other part
    of his crotch area touch your face?
    A. Yes.
    Q. What part?
    A. He put his penis in, like there, in my
    mouth.
    Q. Okay.”

    The perpetrators were also aware that they had committed a crime, and began their efforts at a cover-up almost immediately:

    “O.D.’s older sister E.D…testified that later that same day James [one of the assailants] called her and asked her if O.D. “was a tattletale”…James later text messaged E.D. asking her whether O.D. had told his mother and whether the mother intended to report the incident to the police.”

    The court record also discloses that when the police began investigating, the perp’s began lying to them (claiming they never disrobed) and attempting to cover their tracks. Clearly not an incident of innocent horseplay.

  100. #100 |  John Markley | 

    Homeboy,

    “Presumably, the only ones in need of reform are those who are somehow capable of recidivism.”

    A useless distinction- offenders “somehow capable of recidivism” encompasses anyone who has been convicted of any crime, sexual or otherwise, unless they’ve subsequently suffered some disability that makes the crime physically impossible. In any case, I said “productive members of society,” which encompasses more than not committing sex crimes- the restrictions put on registered offenders can make it much harder to find employment or housing, for instance. “Destroy nearly any” was an overstatement on my part; I should have said “gravely impair” or the like.

    Concerning due process: The restrictions placed on people on the registry can be changed and added to by state governments. This effectively allows legislatures to inflict new penalties on the previously convicted and sentenced at will.

  101. #101 |  homeboy | 

    @ #100, John Markley

    “A useless distinction- offenders “somehow capable of recidivism” encompasses anyone who has been convicted of any crime, sexual or otherwise, unless they’ve subsequently suffered some disability that makes the crime physically impossible.”

    Not a useless distinction at all. The point being made was that when one speaks of reforming sex offenders, one must recognize that the useful subjects of such reform are recidivist offenders. If someone is not poised to repeat an offense, reform is mooted as an issue. Thus, the platform you advance, namely, that sex offender registries are bad because they destroy the possibility of reform, is born on the backs of those who would be recidivists. Since recidivist sex offenders have been shown to be distinctly difficult and intractably resistant to reform with or without registries, I don’t find the loss of reform opportunities to be particularly compelling in this analysis.

    “I said “productive members of society,” which encompasses more than not committing sex crimes”

    Actually, you wrote, “…destroy nearly any chance of offenders eventually being reformed into productive members of society…” You directly linked the potential productivity to the reform of sex offenders. I agree, full reform may include elements other than simply not committing sex crimes, but that still comprises its most basic, necessary, and fundamental element.

    “Concerning due process: The restrictions placed on people on the registry can be changed and added to by state governments.”

    As is the case with every form of state regulation of felons. Regulations restricting certain categories of felons from various forms of employment (securities sales, armed security positions, public trusteeship, etc.), property ownership, and other lifestyle elements may also be changed or added to by state governments. If your argument were valid, virtually all forms of post-conviction regulation would be found to violate due process rights. I don’t believe this is the case, and don’t find this argument compelling either.

    Like you, I oppose sex offender registries on a number of grounds. My hope is that we would all confine ourselves to deploying arguments that are rock solid and provide little (if any) latitude for reasonable dispute.

  102. #102 |  Counterfeit Comfort « The Honest Courtesan | 

    [...] sex-offender registries a number of times, most recently on July 21st in reference to this story (as featured on The Agitator).  Take a close look at the first response to Skenazy’s column, then #42 and #55 on The [...]

Leave a Reply