Monday, August 4, 2008

NY - The NYT Mag Goes Trolling For Trolls, Finds Something Pretty Nasty

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This face is now a familiar, perhaps even iconic one online — it is the face of Weev, the one-named pseudonymous online troll introduced to the world via the NYT mag story this weekend. In "Malwebolence: The Trolls Among Us," writer Mattathias Schwartz recounts his explorations into the heart of trolling subculture, a world where anonymous cyber-poltergeists wreak havoc on people and organizations via extreme online harassment that sometimes carries over into the real world.

The opening anecdote of the piece sets the tone - these aren't harmless pranksters:

One afternoon in the spring of 2006, for reasons unknown to those who knew him, Mitchell Henderson, a seventh grader from Rochester, Minn., took a .22-caliber rifle down from a shelf in his parents' bedroom closet and shot himself in the head. The next morning, Mitchell's school assembled in the gym to begin mourning. His classmates created a virtual memorial on MySpace and garlanded it with remembrances....Someone e-mailed a clipping of Mitchell's newspaper obituary to, a Web site that links to the MySpace pages of the dead. From MyDeathSpace, Mitchell's page came to the attention of an Internet message board known as /b/ and the "trolls," as they have come to be called, who dwell there.


Something about Mitchell Henderson struck the denizens of /b/ as funny. They were especially amused by a reference on his MySpace page to a lost iPod. Mitchell Henderson, /b/ decided, had killed himself over a lost iPod. The "an hero" meme was born. Within hours, the anonymous multitudes were wrapping the tragedy of Mitchell's death in absurdity.

Someone hacked Henderson's MySpace page and gave him the face of a zombie. Someone placed an iPod on Henderson's grave, took a picture and posted it to /b/. Henderson's face was appended to dancing iPods, spinning iPods, hardcore porn scenes. A dramatic re-enactment of Henderson's demise appeared on YouTube, complete with shattered iPod. The phone began ringing at Mitchell's parents' home. "It sounded like kids," remembers Mitchell's father, Mark Henderson, a 44-year-old I.T. executive. "They'd say, 'Hi, this is Mitchell, I'm at the cemetery.' 'Hi, I've got Mitchell's iPod.' 'Hi, I'm Mitchell's ghost, the front door is locked. Can you come down and let me in?' " He sighed. "It really got to my wife." The calls continued for a year and a half.

Lately it's been the commenters who have been getting all the attention, but those anonymous dart-throwers don't hold a candle to the kind of, well, malwebolence exhibited by the trolling community.

This takes us back to our poster-boy, Weev. His are the comments that have been excerpted across the internet, mostly because they are, if I may, the bats--t-craziest. "I hack, I ruin, I make piles of money...I make people afraid for their lives" is only the start of it:

"Trolling is basically Internet eugenics," he said, his voice pitching up like a jet engine on the runway. "I want everyone off the Internet. Bloggers are filth. They need to be destroyed. Blogging gives the illusion of participation to a bunch of retards ... We need to put these people in the oven!"

I listened for a few more minutes as Weev held forth on the Federal Reserve and about Jews. Unlike Fortuny, he made no attempt to reconcile his trolling with conventional social norms. Two days later, I flew to Los Angeles and met Weev at a train station in Fullerton, a sleepy bungalow town folded into the vast Orange County grid. He is in his early 20s with full lips, darting eyes and a nest of hair falling back from his temples. He has a way of leaning in as he makes a point, inviting you to share what might or might not be a joke.

As we walked through Fullerton's downtown, Weev told me about his day -- he'd lost $10,000 on the commodities market, he claimed -- and summarized his philosophy of "global ruin." "We are headed for a Malthusian crisis," he said, with professorial confidence. "Plankton levels are dropping. Bees are dying. There are tortilla riots in Mexico, the highest wheat prices in 30-odd years." He paused. "The question we have to answer is: How do we kill four of the world's six billion people in the most just way possible?" He seemed excited to have said this aloud.

In addition to being crazy, he is also scary — real-world scary, like this: "Weev says he has access to hundreds of thousands of Social Security numbers. About a month later, he sent me mine."

What's interesting about these web-themed articles is how they, to borrow a phrase, explode online — not just in coverage, but in how they are debated and expanded, with actual principals weighing in — even the author — and adding to the story. Semi-iconic troll Jason Fortuny, whom Schwartz likened to a troll 'spokesman', wrote a lengthy discourse on the piece on his own site (and in the NYT comments sections), emphasizing his points of importance and his own message:

These days I troll when I want answers about human behavior. Even though it didn't make it into the article, Mattathias and I talked about this extensively.

If I want to know what you really think, all I have to do is troll you for a bit, and your true colors will light up like a Vegas billboard. That's something you can't get by harassing someone over the phone.

(Fortuny's most famous experiment about human behavior was posting as a woman seeking a "str8 brutal dom muscular male" on Craigslist, and then posting the names, email addresses and photos of the men who responded.)

He did, however, offer a magnanimous appraisal of the article ("an exemplary piece of journalism") and of the editorial processes that resulted in some of "the finer points of trolling" getting left out ("We all need to remember that Mattathias answers to an Editor, and that Editor has to balance the sincerity of the piece with the practical needs of the readers...[t]he facts and opinions that Weev and I put forward have to be distilled down into something manageable and accessible to the general public").

Weev was a bit less charitable on his livejournal page (livejournal? For this omnipotent Troll of Trolls?). Here's his beef :

I while ago I met with Matt Schwartz from the New York Times Magazine, under the explicit condition that I would be covering philosophy and history and not my personal business. I feel I didn't really get what I want out of this exchange, as the important philosophy I conveyed to him was only conveyed in short bits that I think were taken out of context. What I feel was most important and totally untouched in the mainstream media so far, the history troll organizations, was not covered at all.

...and here's his pitch:

If any members of the media (old or new) would like to give the real story Matt passed over some coverage, they can contact me by sending an email. Also, if you agree with my vision of the future, are an "accredited investor" according to the SEC's regulations or just an investor who is not a US citizen and would like me to start you a private investment trust, you can email to chat (minimum startup capital, 700k).

Here's his philosophy — click to read it all, but basically he's "got some deeply veiled gnosis to share about the nature of reality, about ancient Gods, and about the future of humanity." Oddly, it seems to culminate in the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, which as I recall was all about harmony and understanding, sympathy and trust abounding. If I read the article right, that isn't really the troll philosophy. But where there are showtunes, there is hope.

VT - Unintended consequences

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I am so sick and tired of hearing "unintended consequences!"


Judging by last week's committee meeting, the Board of Aldermen are fired up to pass the proposed residency requirements preventing sex offenders from moving within 1,000 feet of places where children might congregate.

Alderman David Dress said the question was "'How do we serve the people? Do we serve the perps or the people?'"

- You serve the people, and sex offenders are PEOPLE also.  And you took an oath to uphold the constitution, which you apparently lied about, as well.

Board President David Allaire said, "I hope the board thinks about what is best for the kids and the community and think about the after effects after."

- Why not read the news, and listen to the experts, which can tell you about these so called "after effects?"  This is nothing but grandstanding to get brownie points and votes.  Imagine if we just went to war with someone, and thought of the after effects after?  Oh yeah, we did that already.  You people make me sick!

The city's Vermont House representatives sent out a press release in support of the measure. It's one of those feel-good laws that seem like a no-brainer: It's bad to have sex offenders around kids. No argument there. Because this law would seem to address that, everyone's piling aboard the bandwagon.

But like most quick fixes, unintended consequences make things more complicated than they appear.

Everyone involved could have benefited from doing a little research, including the mayor, who proposed the ordinance in the first place.

According to local, state and national victim's advocacy groups, residency restrictions increase, not decrease, the probability that convicted sex offenders will commit another offense. So, according to the people who know the best — the people who work daily with and on behalf of victims of sexual abuse — the law is more likely to enable another assault than prevent one.

The first reason is that offenders who have a stable home and work environment after release are far less likely to reoffend than those who are unsettled. Secondly, it's harder for police and parole officers to track offenders who are constantly on the move. That combination makes perpetrators more likely to reoffend when residency restrictions prevent them from settling down.

Third, research has shown the predators the law does target — that minority who pick on strangers — usually bypass local children and travel to a different neighborhood or town to find victims so they are less likely to be recognized.

Study after study has been done, in state after state where such laws have passed, and identified problems that Rutland could have learned from: Minnesota, Colorado, California, Iowa, Oklahoma and Florida.

Seattle police detective Bob Shilling, a nationally recognized expert on sex offenders, told local TV station KOMO that a residency law "creates a lot more homeless sex offenders, which makes it a lot harder for us to keep track of them … They do not work. In fact, it exacerbates the problem."

Even the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children spoke out against such laws.

But looking at those experiences is harder than banging together a quick solution that will appeal to people who have neither the time nor the inclination to study the problem and who will approve of their local government "doing something" about sex offenders.

- AMEN!!!

So the question becomes: Are the aldermen serving the people, or the politicians?

Allaire and Alderman Tom DePoy also pretty much sneered at the notion that the law should pass constitutional muster.

But a little research would at least have made a legal challenge much more difficult. Just look at California, whose law — like Rutland's proposal — has no definition of "residency." About one offender in five in California now registers as "transient," a huge increase since the law passed, and nobody's sure how to control them.

Is sleeping on somebody else's couch "residency"? For how many days — or hours? Having failed to address that issue in advance, California has had to make up rules on the fly and faces potentially lengthy and expensive challenges as a result.

Mayor Christopher Louras is 100 percent correct to complain that Rutland has far more than its share of former prisoners — sex offenders and otherwise — but this response is uninformed. By failing to learn from other jurisdictions' past mistakes, and by failing to even talk to advocates for victims of sex crimes, the authors of the new ordinance may in fact be making a problem worse, not better.

- You can't reason with someone who has an agenda and little brains!

It's safe to assume the board isn't in the mood to rethink the law, having fired up public sentiment for it so vocally the other night. But even if it passes, the next question is, are the aldermen now willing to listen to victims of sexual assaults and pass something that might actually do some good?

Pressuring state government for better public disclosure on sex offenders would be a good place to start. According to Vermont's largest victims' rights group, better training for parole officers and polygraphs for paroled offenders would also be good steps.

But even better: So far no one has addressed the fact that most children aren't abused by strangers hanging around schoolyards. By focusing on ways to prevent this tiny — although frightening — possibility, the city is missing a chance to educate and arm our families against the far more common predator: an acquaintance or family member.

Most child abusers follow a predictable pattern to trap their victims and deceive victims' families. There are programs available to teach people to spot these patterns and stop potential abusers before they get a chance to strike.

Instead of passing a law that may well backfire in an attempt to control a small minority of offenders, we need to ensure our schools and other city institutions provide training for children and families to spot and stop child molesters before they can act.

IN - Homeowners assoc. bans sex offenders

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GREENWOOD - A group of Greenwood residents have a message for registered sex offenders: Stay out.

Pines of Greenwood, near Worthsville and Averitt Roads, is believed to be one of the first subdivisions in the state to prohibit registered sex offenders from moving in or living there, the homeowners association attorney said.

The homeowners association adopted the ban in hopes of protecting neighborhood children and preserving property values.

- Protecting children?  Yeah right, they are protecting house values.  Where the hell do you expect these people to live?


The 175-home subdivision on Greenwood's southwest side may be the first in Indiana to block sex offenders from living there, but communities in New Jersey and the Kansas City area have put similar policies in place.

A developer in Texas has marketed "sex offender-free neighborhoods."

- Next every neighborhood will be a "sex offender free neighborhood" thus successfully banishing all sex offenders from even living at all, and then, the laws will come tumbling down for being unconstitutional!

After adding the ban to the subdivision's covenant, the association can evict any sex offender who buys a home in the subdivision or any current resident who's convicted of a felony sex crime in the future. By owning property in the subdivision, Pines homeowners agree to not allow sex offenders to live in their homes or to rent or sell their properties to sex offenders.

"This is about protecting myself and my family," attorney Scott Tanner said. "If you're a sex offender, you're a danger and I want to keep you away for my family's safety and to protect the investment I made in my home."

- Again, it's about hate, greed and protecting property values, that is what it is about, just admit it!

A group of concerned parents expressed fears when a few sex offenders from a nearby neighborhood they recognized from photos on an online registry started using their subdivision's pool, which often is packed with children. So Tanner informed the association they could keep sex offenders out by adding a restriction to the covenant, or subdivision rules.

Such a ban will help keep neighborhood kids safe from sexual predators and create a safe family environment, Tanner said. Parents get a sense of security knowing that a sex offender doesn't live down the block, he said.

More than 75 percent of the subdivisions' homeowners voted in favor of adding the restriction to the covenant, Tanner said.

ACLU of Indiana spokesman Ken Falk said the ban was legal and that his group had no plans to challenge it in court, unless someone claimed it violated their rights. Even then, the only challenge would be on technical grounds if the prohibition were adopted correctly, Falk said.

- Wow, so much for the ACLU of Indiana protecting peoples rights!

Federal housing law prohibits discrimination against people on the base of race, religion, creed, national origin or disability status. No federal protection is given for past criminal behavior.

- So all sex offenders need to claim disability, then they cannot do this.

Similar prohibitions elsewhere in the country, including one in New Jersey, have survived lawsuits, Tanner said.

Under the ban, any sex offenders who already are living in the subdivision will not be kicked out, but no new registered offenders will be allowed to live in homes in Pines.

Any current resident convicted of a crime in the future that would require sex offender registration would be forced to leave. If a convicted sex offender didn't agree to sell his home, the homeowners' association could evict him.

Convicted sex offenders are required to register their name, address and workplace with the sheriff's office after being released from prison. Forty-two registered sex offenders listed Greenwood addresses.

Registered sex offenders are disqualified from purchasing, renting or living in any home in the subdivision. Realtors are informed of the ban when they ask the homeowners association about any deed restrictions.

Under the covenant, the homeowners association can start eviction proceedings against any registered sex offenders who move in.

If evicted, an offender would have to reimburse the association for attorney fees and court costs, according to the covenant.

- I would not pay it, this is just more extortion and exploitation!

To enforce the ban, the homeowners association can periodically search through the roll of registered sex offenders in Greenwood to ensure that none are living in the neighborhood, Tanner said.

Since that information can easily be found online, the ban also serves to protect property values in the subdivision, Tanner said.

With a sagging housing market, such a prohibition keeps the neighborhood from being at a disadvantage, he said.

"Parents are going to go online and see if there's a sex offender living next door," he said. "If there is, that home is not going to sell. That brings everyone's property value down on the block."

- Yep, this is what all this fuss is about, period.

Tanner expects that other subdivisions will follow the lead of Pines once they realize it can be done.

- And when this happens, basically sex offenders will not be able to live ANYWHERE!!!  Hotels and motels are already doing pretty much the same.  WHERE THE HELL ARE THE REAL LAWYERS AT?

All it usually takes for a homeowners association to adopt such a ban is a supermajority of votes from homeowners, he said.

If the idea catches on and spreads widely enough, sex offenders will have to live in places without covenants, such as older neighborhoods, urban neighborhoods and rural areas, Tanner said.

Report by Joseph S. Pete, from WISH-TV news gathering partner The Daily Journal.

PA - Sex offender tracking feasible

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Those who fail to comply with Megan's Law should have to wear GPS units.

Under what's known as Megan's Law, sex offenders have to register with the state after they serve their sentences for their offenses.

The idea behind the law is admirable. While a large number of sex offenders may never commit heinous crimes again, it's worth the effort to keep track of them to assist police in investigations of such despicable offenses.

Pennsylvania's version of the law -- named for a young girl who was raped and murdered by a recidivist pedophile -- has been in effect since 1995. There have been no significant challenges to the law, and judges, for the most part, balance the rights of those convicted of these crimes with the needs of public safety.

It is indeed a balancing act. It seems contrary to our system of justice to essentially sentence a person to life for a criminal offense short of murder. In the case of some sex offenders, it seems reasonable to require them to report their where-abouts to law enforcement. The courts, thus far, have found no constitutional grounds to overturn that aspect of the law.

The system depends on sex offenders volunteering their whereabouts. For the most part, it works. But in some cases it doesn't.

A study cited by the state Auditor General's office concludes that the state has lost track of 923 of the roughly 9,800 sex offenders required to register with the state.

That is less than 10 percent. That may not seem like a huge number, but it would also be reasonable to suspect that sex offenders who do not meet the requirement to register are ones who may be repeating their offenses.

Three years ago, state Rep. Bev Mackereth (Email), R-Spring Grove, introduced legislation that would have required convicted sex offenders to wear monitoring devices, allowing police to track their whereabouts via GPS technology.

It was a good idea.

But it was flawed.

At the time, the state Department of Corrections and Board of Probation and Parole asked Rep. Mackereth not to press for the bill's passage until they had time to study whether such a system would work. The state conducted a pilot program, using technology from five different providers in five different areas of the state.

It failed.

The technology, at that time, didn't work consistently.

Rep. Mackereth wisely backed off on the idea. She said, correctly, that it wouldn't be right to force county probation departments to purchase expensive equipment that may not be reliable.

Now, though, things have changed.

The technology has caught up and is considerably more reliable. Some counties have adopted the technology, and it is working well. The counties also report that costs are offset by charging offenders fees to cover expenses.

Rep. Mackereth said it may be time to revisit the notion of requiring GPS monitoring for sex offenders.

Money, though, may remain the issue.

"It's not a matter of changing the law," she said. "It's a matter of allocating the dollars."

The state Auditor General's office hasn't said how much statewide implementation of such a system would cost. But it appears that it is now within reach.

And it seems like a reasonable price to pay if it prevents a sexual predator from preying upon the most defenseless among us.

- And once again, you are assuming all sex offenders are predators, which is a MYTH!!!

WI - Suamico board to vote on sex offender law

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Ordinance would limit court-supervised offenders from living within certain areas

SUAMICO — The village could become the latest in a number of suburban communities to pass an ordinance preventing certain types of sex offenders from being placed in certain areas.

On Monday, the Village Board may vote on a law that will limit certain kinds of sex offenders to parts of the village. It's in response to a number of surrounding communities that have done the same in recent months.

The village's Health and Safety committee passed the ordinance, which mirrors a law the neighboring village of Howard passed recently. The law prohibits court-supervised sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of any school, licensed day care center, park, trail, playground, place of worship or other place where children congregate.

The ordinance also will establish an appeals board — in Suamico's case, the health and safety committee will serve as one.

The village of Ashwaubenon adopted two ordinances dealing with sex offenders: one prohibiting certain types of court-supervised offenders from living within 1,500 feet of school, day care center, park or other place children might gather, and another preventing them from loitering around 200 feet of those areas.

The villages of Hobart and Bellevue both have laws preventing sex offenders from loitering around areas where children gather.

WI - De Pere council to weigh sex offender law

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DE PERE — The City Council is expected to discuss whether to move forward with residency restrictions for sex offenders when it meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers of City Hall, 335 S. Broadway.

Council members have talked for several weeks about creating such a law or a loitering rule to keep offenders from hanging out near parks, schools or other places children might congregate. But leaders say they don't want to move forward with anything as simply a "feel good" measure.

The council asked staff and the police department to talk to Green Bay police about how the city'sresidency ordinance affected the number of offenders living in the community or the number of offenses committed, more information about loitering laws, and a history of the number of offenders living in De Pere.

NC - When The Innocent Become Victims

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Lives tremendously impacted by egregious injustice

Imagine going about your life in a normal way and then, without warning, and to your utter disbelief and shock, it is suddenly turned upside down and inside out with consequences that are so horrific you sometimes wonder if you would live to tell about it. That is precisely what happened to Dwayne Allen Dail who was unjustly incarcerated for 18 ½ years for crimes he did not commit.

In 1987, a 12-year-old girl in Goldsboro, North Carolina was raped. The following day a detective was knocking on Mr. Dail's door questioning him about his whereabouts on the day of the rape. Mr. Dail told the detective that he was probably asleep. After Mr. Dail returned from work to have dinner with his mother on May 13, 1988, he learned that he was charged with first-degree burglary, first-degree rape, first-degree sex offense, indecent liberties, and lewd and lascivious actions. "I was absolutely floored," says Mr. Dail, who was 19-years-old at the time. He spent 4 ½ days in jail and was released on $5,000.00 bond.

How was Mr. Dail targeted for blame in this incident? Three weeks after the rape occurred, the mother of the victim observed Dwayne drive by her home in a van and thought she saw him look up at the apartment complex and stare at the window for too long a period of time. As a result, she called the police and provided his name. Weeks later, the victim saw Mr. Dail walking and stated he was the perpetrator. In the child's mind, he became the rapist. Signs of false exposure, surrounding this accusation that pointed to Mr. Dail, included the early morning hour, the young victim, little lighting, and a short interval of exposure.

His trial began March 27, 1989. An offer was made for him to plead no contest to the misdemeanor and be placed on 3 years probation. Mr. Dail declined the offer because he knew he did nothing wrong. The charge of lewd and lascivious act was dropped before the charges went to the jury. He was subsequently convicted of first-degree burglary, first-degree rape, first-degree sex offense, and indecent liberties on March 29, 1989. On March 30, 1989, he received a sentence of two life terms plus 18 years. Mr. Dail was sent to Central Prison on March 31, 1987. "I tried not to cry," says Mr. Dail when he was taken to the first youth prison, Polk Youth Institute, and went through the orientation process. He had not been there 15 months when he was threatened and raped. Not understanding what it was, he signed himself into protective custody where he remained for several months. "It was a lot less threatening but no less terrorizing," says Mr. Dail.

While in prison, Mr. Dail wrote to numerous magazines and newspapers about his situation claiming his innocence. When he had a custody review, he was asked if he wanted to remain in protective custody, which he did, and he had to sign for this request. From Polk, he was sent to Blanch prison and placed in a single cell where he remained for eight months. "I've never been so confined in my life," says Mr. Dail. He continued his letter writing campaign. "I began reading everything I could while I was in there," says Mr. Dail. While at Blanch, he turned 21 years old.

From Blanche he was sent to Eastern Correctional Institute. In comparison to Pope and Blanch, Mr. Dail says, "It was a new building, very soothing, freshly painted, floors waxed, inmates older." He took classes there and became comfortable. "I was so deceived by the appearance of the place. I let my guard down. As a result of that, I was raped and beaten and that was just the beginning of a long road." The word was out among the prison population that Mr. Dail was a child molester and, as a consequence, he was victimized in the correctional system. "I was convicted for raping a 12-year-old Black girl, and everyone in prison knew that," says Mr. Dall.

Throughout his 18 ½ years of incarceration, he was transferred 17 times. Mr. Dail continued his letter writing campaign and wrote the governor daily about his innocence. He had read about DNA and contacted his attorney and requested a DNA test. He also noted he did not want the evidence destroyed. "I knew the power of DNA," says Mr. Dail. In 1995, his family inquired about the evidence and they were told that it had been destroyed in 1994. "I felt then that with the evidence destroyed, my life was actually over," says Mr. Dail.

Mr. Dail was informed that the Center for Project Innocence accepted his case for investigation. In 2004, the Center informed Mr. Dail there was nothing they could do for him because the evidence had been destroyed. They contacted the victim who was not interested in speaking about the matter. "We ran into so many brick walls," says Mr. Dail.

Mr. Dail and his family searched for ways he could possibly make parole. When he did receive a parole hearing, he was informed that in order for him to make parole, he would have to take a sex offender course and express remorse to the parole board. "I just could not do that," said Mr. Dail. He indicated he would have to die, but he would not admit guilt for a crime he did not commit.

- This is the way it works.  Even if you are indeed innocent, they require you to confess to something you did not do, before they will even consider letting you out.  And this is wrong, IMO.

One day, when he was taken to the visitation area, there stood a woman, Christine Mumma, an attorney with the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence. Ms. Mumma informed Mr. Dail that evidence had been found in his case. "I fell out of my chair and burst into tears. Evidence meant I was going home, and I knew that," said Mr. Dail. He immediately told Ms. Mumma, "Test anything and everything you can find."

Fortunately for Mr. Dail, the evidence in his case had mistakenly been placed on a shelf where evidence in murder cases is held, and it remained there for 18 years. Consequently, the rape kit had not been destroyed. If the kit had been placed on the shelf where rape evidence was held, it would have already been destroyed. The evidence proved that semen found in the nightgown of the victim excluded Duane as the perpetrator.

- This is exactly why I think everyone should be required to give DNA, so innocent people do not go to prison.  And talk about screw ups, it seems like with all the years of training these people have, they would not screw up evidence and lose track of it, like they did here.

The Innocence Center receives 1200 innocence claim inquiries per year with a 95% rejection rate. According to Ms. Mumma, there were several things about Mr. Dail's case that caused them to pursue it - he refused attractive offers that were made to him; he was dragged from the courtroom by his ankles while he continually proclaimed his innocence, and the evidence was weak.

Ms. Mumma explains that preservation, property collection, storage, and notice of destruction are critical elements for working cold cases and cases that involve victims of violent crimes. She emphasizes these areas must be a priority relative to investigation of such cases. "In many of these cases, it is pure luck that results in exoneration," says Ms. Mumma.

In October 2007, Mr. Dail received a pardon from North Carolina Governor Mike Easley. "It's a whole different world than in 1989. You can't imagine how stupid a person feels when you can't pump gas," says Mr. Dail. "A lot has changed in the last 20 years. My son was born seven months after I was locked up, and my mother is a little old lady now. It's difficult to get to know my family again," says Mr. Dail who acknowledges his family was always close. "They suffered immensely," he adds.

Mr. Dail is currently receiving compensation from the state of North Carolina but, most importantly, he is rejoicing in having his freedom and innocence back. "What is most important to me is that I survived. I hope to think I am on my way back. I am blessed," says Mr. Dail.

The victimization he endured was an ordeal that captured, what could have been, many productive years of his life. The dedicated efforts of Christine Mumma, a tenacious attorney who believed in his innocence, greatly assisted with this successful outcome. "I've seen other cases where I believe people were factually innocent and evidence has been destroyed. For me, this case was just a small reward for all the pain we've had on those other cases," says Ms. Mumma. She shares Mr. Dail's happiness and is unrelenting in her support. "I'm with him every step of the way," she says

- This is why, IMO, I think all lawyers, DA's and judges, anyone involved, should be held accountable for sending innocent people to prison.  If they were held accountable, then this would happen a lot less.