Sunday, March 21, 2010

OK - HUGE event in Tulsa April 8th and Oklahoma City April 9th (PLEASE ATTEND IF POSSIBLE)

The April PRI (Prisoner Reentry Initiative) Educational and Networking Forum has the theme of "Reality Check: What Works and What Doesn't Work In Community-Based Sex Offender Management."

Experts from across this broad field, including corrections, victim advocates, therapists, law enforcement, reentry professionals, and more, will be addressing some of the hardest questions surrounding how we can keep our communities safe while maintaining sound public policy and a humane approach to sex offender management.

Events are April 8 (Tulsa) and April 9 (OKC) from 9 AM to 4 PM. Lunch and materials will be provided. The registration is $20 and must be paid in advance. Government employees may provide a purchase order in lieu of prepayment by emailing the PA to Steve Gordon at gordonstevenr@gmail.com. For registration and payment information, go to: www.okreentry.org

Event locations are listed below:

April 8, 9AM to 4PM : The Sanctuary Church

(Use Rear Entrance)
1228 E. 5th Street, Tulsa

April 9, 9AM to 4PM : Crossings Community Center

(Old Wal-Mart Center)
2208 W. Hefner Road, OKC

Contact Info

Deborah R. Price, Projects Manager
Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives
Post Office Box 25352
Oklahoma City, OK 73125
deborah.price@faithlinksok.org
Voice: (405) 522-0606
FAX: (405) 521-6868

For more information visit: www.faithlinksok.org

Our Mission: Linking state government with faith-based and community groups to help Oklahoman's in need!


"The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly." - Abraham Lincoln


CA - Investigating Jessica's Law

Video Link



"The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly." - Abraham Lincoln


Rethinking Sex Offender Laws for Teenage Texting

Original Article

03/21/2010

By TAMAR LEWIN

In Iowa, Jorge Canal is on the sex offenders registry because, at age 18, he was convicted of distributing obscene materials to a minor after he sent a picture of his penis by cellphone to a 14-year-old female friend who had requested it.

In Florida, Phillip Alpert, then 18, was charged with distributing child pornography and put on the sex offenders registry because after a fight, he sent a photograph of his nude 16-year-old girlfriend by e-mail to dozens of people, including her parents.

In most states, teenagers who send or receive sexually explicit photographs by cellphone or computer — known as “sexting” — have risked felony child pornography charges and being listed on a sex offender registry for decades to come.

But there is growing consensus among lawyers and legislators that the child pornography laws are too blunt an instrument to deal with an adolescent cyberculture in which all kinds of sexual pictures circulate on sites like MySpace and Facebook.

Last year, Nebraska, Utah and Vermont changed their laws to reduce penalties for teenagers who engage in such activities, and this year, according to the National Council on State Legislatures, 14 more states are considering legislation that would treat young people who engage in sexting differently from adult pornographers and sexual predators.

And on Wednesday, the first federal appellate opinion in a sexting case recognized that a prosecutor had gone too far in trying to enforce adult moral standards.

The opinion upheld a block on a district attorney who threatened to bring child pornography charges against girls whose pictures showing themselves scantily dressed appeared on classmates’ cellphones.

There’s a lot of confusion about how to regulate cellphones and sex and 16-year-olds,” said Amy Adler, a law professor at New York University. “We’re at this cultural shift, not only because of the technology, but because of what’s happening in terms of the representation of teen sexuality as you can see on ‘Gossip Girl.’

There are real risks that sexually explicit pictures, meant to be shared only with a friend or partner, will make their way into wide publication on the Internet and into the hands of sexual predators.

Last year, a 14-year-old New Jersey girl was arrested and charged with possession and distribution of child pornography after posting dozens of sexually explicit photographs of herself on MySpace.

Such cases, lawyers say, are far afield from what the child pornography laws were intended for. So, too, was the case of Mr. Canal, which was upheld last year by the Iowa Supreme Court.

Mr. Canal was 18 when he sent the picture of his erect penis to a 14-year-old schoolmate, along with another picture of his face, with the text “I love you” on it. The girl, identified only by her initials, thought she erased the image, but her parents found it and passed it to the police.

The child pornography law was about protecting children from pedophiles,” Professor Adler said. “While sexting is bad judgment, it’s simply not what the Supreme Court had in mind when it crafted the child pornography law. It just doesn’t make sense that in a lot of the sexting situations, the pornographer and the victim are one and the same person.”

As a practical matter, young people are rarely, if ever, jailed under the child pornography laws for the practice.

Some of the 14 states considering legislation would make sexting a misdemeanor, while others would treat it like juvenile offenses like truancy or running away.

Many jurisdictions are creating a separate offense for these situations,” said Mary Leary, a law professor at Catholic University. “They’re moving it to family or juvenile court. The more choices available to a prosecutor, including diverting the case entirely from the juvenile justice system, the better.”

She and many others believe that some criminal penalties should remain on the books.

Jesse Weins, chairman of the criminal justice department at Dakota Wesleyan University, said that because the legal code functioned as a guide to acceptable behavior, “there should be something there, even if oftentimes it doesn’t make sense to prosecute.”

But there are those who favor decriminalization.

Generally this should be an education issue,” said Witold Walczak, legal director of the Pennsylvania American Civil Liberties Union. “No one disputes that sexting can have very bad consequences, and no parent wants kids sending out naked images. But if you’ve got thousands of kids engaging in this, are you going to criminalize all of them?

One recent survey found that about one in five teenagers reported having engaged in sexting. Another found that almost half the boys in coed high schools had seen a picture depicting a female classmate nude.

There are two basic scenarios. In one, a teenager shares a nude picture, usually with a romantic partner. In the other, a partner, or more commonly an ex-partner, distributes the image.

The new Nebraska law makes that distinction, giving a pass to children under 18 who send out their own photograph to a willing recipient who is at least 15. On the other hand, a teenager who passes the photograph on to friends could face a felony child pornography charge and five years in prison.

The Tunkhannock, Pa., case that produced Wednesday’s court ruling illustrates how complicated such cases can be. Those pictures were discovered by the school authorities, who confiscated the students’ cellphones and turned them over to the district attorney.

Mr. Walczak, the girls’ lawyer, said that he planned to file a separate lawsuit charging that the school search of material on confiscated phones breached students’ privacy.

The district attorney told parents of the students involved — both those in the images and those whose phones contained the images — that their children could be prosecuted for child pornography unless they took part in an after-school program.

The program, divided by gender, involved random drug tests, probation and classes in which the girls would “gain an understanding of what it means to be a girl in today’s society,” by, among other things, writing essays on why their actions were wrong.

Only three of more than a dozen families refused to join the program — those of two girls, ages 12 and 13, who were pictured wearing bras at a slumber party, and of a third girl who was shown emerging from the shower with a towel wrapped under her breasts. The parents say the photographs were not pornographic, a question no court has yet considered. And there has been no evidence that any of the three girls played a part in circulating the photographs.

The parents went to court, claiming that prosecution would amount to retaliation for refusal to join the program.

We need laws that deal with sexting more holistically, based on the facts of a particular situation,” said Professor Weins, who has written a law review article on the subject. “And that’s not how the child pornography laws work.”


"The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly." - Abraham Lincoln