Saturday, March 21, 2009

Alaska and Florida consider bans on bestiality

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Got to have a registry so the animals can check it out to make sure the person who will be walking or grooming them, is not some sex offender.


JUNEAU – It's a subject that can cause nervous snickering, a little uneasiness, and even a few bad jokes.

But many in the southeast Alaska community of Klawock, population 800, weren't laughing last April after a 26-year-old registered sex offender was accused of molesting a local family's pet dog.

The man was spotted by a local woman coaxing the Labrador retriever into the woods near a ball field. There he allegedly tied it to a tree, taped its muzzle shut with duct tape and had sex with it, witnesses told police at the time.

The man had been twice convicted of raping a young boy and more recently had served probation for assault after lunging at a child. While the incident with the dog was reported to the police, Klawock Mayor Don Marvin said nothing happened for two days while fearful parents escorted their children home from school.

"When this incident happened, we had a community that was scared," Marvin said.

Because Alaska has no law against such an attack, Ketchikan District Attorney James Scott eventually charged the man with two counts of criminal mischief, which was later changed to a theft charge.

In requesting a $10,000 bail, Scott told the court that the state was concerned that if a small child had been available and unattended that day, "the small child would have been found taped [and] tied in the woods."

State Rep. Bob Lynn, an Anchorage Republican, wants to make Alaska the 36th US state to ban bestiality by expanding the state's animal cruelty law to include sexual conduct. His bill would make the offense a class A misdemeanor that's punishable by up to a year in jail and a $10,000 fine.

Other states are also moving to ban bestiality. In Florida, a bill that would make sex with animals punishable by up to five years in prison has been unanimously approved by two Senate committees and has two other committee stops before reaching the full chamber.

Florida Sen. Nan Rich, a Democrat, has a thick folder in her office containing news clippings of cases around the state of people having sex with animals. While the act is sickening enough, she says research has shown that people who molest animals are likely to rape or molest people.

"There's quite a number of cases," said Rich, holding up an article. "This one is, unfortunately, a man having sex with his guide dog. This is about a goat's death, a female goat in Walton County that had been sexually assaulted. Unfortunately it's not an isolated incident. We need a mechanism to prosecute."

The Walton County case in 2006 helped bring the problem to light. There were at least four goat rapes in Mossy Head, including one that resulted in the animal dying. Instead of being charged with a sex act, a suspect was charged with stealing two goats, said Dee Thompson, the director of Panhandle Animal Welfare Society.

Authorities in Tallahassee, Florida, also struggled in 2005 to find charges that would fit against a blind man accused of having sex with his guide dog. The man was initially charged with felony animal cruelty, but prosecutors dropped that charge and recharged him with "breach of the peace."

In Tennessee, bestiality was banned in 2007. Arizona did so in 2006 after a Mesa deputy fire chief was accused of bestial acts with his next-door neighbor's lamb. Washington state also banned sex with animals in 2006, after a man died of a perforated colon from having sex with a horse on a farm in rural King County.

In Alaska, Lynn's measure is backed by the Department of Corrections, the Alaska Farm Bureau, the Humane Society of the United States and the Alaska Peace Officers Association.

Rachel Dzuiba, a veterinarian at the Gastineau Humane Society in Juneau, said it would not only protect animals but also protect the public against a cycle of abuse and violence.

"The act of forcing a living creature to engage in a sexual activity without the ability of consent cannot simply be viewed as a personal choice – no more than forcing a child or an impaired adult would be," Dzuiba told the House Judiciary Committee at a hearing Friday.

The society's executive director, Chava Lee, said she has received several complaints at the Juneau animal shelter about sexual deviancy against animals.

"In each case that has come to my attention, coercion, abuse, threat of physical harm or terrorizing a human during the practice of a sexual assault on an animal was present," Lee said.

According to the national Humane Society, several studies highlight the link between the sexual assault of animals and sex crimes against humans, including:

  • FBI research on the backgrounds of serial sexual homicide perpetrators that uncovered high rates of sexual assault of animals;
  • A report in the Journal of Forensic Psychiatry that said 20 percent of children who sexually abuse other children also have histories of sexually abusing animals; and
  • A Utah State University study showing 37 percent of sexually violent juvenile offenders have a history of animal sexual assault.

The committee also heard testimony from Klawock Chief of Police Cullen Fowler who said the dog that had been allegedly assaulted did not require veterinary care but appeared to have suffered.

Fowler said the pressure of the taped muzzle cause blood vessels to burst in its eyes and the dog was sensitive to the touch, jumpy, and afraid for a long time after the incident.

UT - Law changes sex offender registry information

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By Linda Thomson - Deseret News

An amendment to Utah's Sex Offender Registry law has resolved, at least in the eyes of the Utah Attorney General's Office, the case of a man who challenged handing over such personal information as online and Internet screen names and passwords to the Department of Corrections.

The man, known in federal court documents only as "John Doe," contended releasing such information as Internet screen names and passwords would violate his constitutional rights. A federal judge agreed with his position and Utah appealed that ruling to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
- Finally a judge who sees this for what it is, unconstitutional!

The case then went to mediation, was delayed and then the attorney general's office asked to have the appeal dismissed following the passage of HB247.

That amendment to the Sex Offender Registry law requires convicted sex offenders to provide such information as Internet identifiers, but not passwords, to the Department of Corrections. However, this information will not be made public and will be shared only with police agencies that are investigating sex-related crimes or are trying to apprehend someone.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to dismiss Utah's appeal on Thursday.

John Doe, who previously lived out of state, was convicted in a military court of sex offenses involving a minor, served 13 months of an 18-month sentence and was released. He was not on probation or parole when he moved to Utah and objected to turning over screen names, passwords, Web sites and other such information to the Department of Corrections when he was required to register as a sex offender here.

He sued the attorney general, the corrections department and every Utah sheriff and prosecutor, alleging that Utah's registry requirements violated his First Amendment right to free speech. State officials maintained that John Doe had given up that right when he committed sex offenses.
- I have heard this BS argument many times.  If we are going to start stripping citizens of their constitutional rights after they have been convicted of a crime, how far are we willing to go? Traffic violations, DV, drugs the list is a long one. We might as well tear up the Constitution now? Thank God the judge still believes in upholding the Constitution!

U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell ruled in 2008 that John Doe could stay anonymous online.

"Although Mr. Doe is a sex offender, he has not forfeited his First Amendment rights," the judge wrote in her decision.

MI - Vigil tonight in Grand Rapids to remember homeless man who froze to death

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Related story about his death

I am shocked at this story, and the humane comments. Finally people are not out with pitchforks. Maybe there is hope?  And it's good they are doing this, but where were they when he really needed them?


By Jessica Puchala

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - Several congregations, ministries and agencies will come together tonight to hold a candlelight vigil for a homeless man who froze to death after being turned away from several shelters.

Thomas Pauli, 52, was found dead in the 600 block of South Division in Grand Rapids back in January. He had apparently been turned away from homeless shelters because he was a registered sex offender. Temperatures hovered around zero degrees that night.
- Turned away, simply because he was a sex offender, and it was freezing outside!  DEATH BY LEGISLATION!

Bethlehem Lutheran Church Pastor Jay Schrimpf says the vigil will also be used to consider the law which left Pauli out in the cold. Currently state law prohibits sex offenders from staying in homeless shelters.

The vigil will be held at 7:30 tonight at Degage Ministries located at 144 South Division.

American Women Cheating On Their Husbands Left & Right

Incarcerating Kids will solve the 'Sexting' Problem Like Incarcerating Drug Users Has Created a Drug-Free America

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By Maia Szalavitz

Because I write about drug policy, I daily encounter massive ignorance, complete stupidity and utter idiocy. But this piece by Ashleigh Banfield on the Daily Beast blows most of it out of the water on the dumb-o-meter.

Banfield wants harsh legal penalties applied "with zeal" to teenagers who send each other sexy pictures via cellphone or internet. Right now, such teens are already at risk of serious prison sentences plus a lifetime of being labeled a child pornographer and having to register as a sex offender because no one ever considered that such laws could apply to their "victims" if the "victim" takes her own photo and sends it to her bf or a boy forwards a sexy pic.

So, the possibility of being lynched and the certainty of being ostracized by one's neighbors once you register with the cops as a maker of kiddie porn--as well as the prospect of being seen as the lowest of the low during a lengthy incarceration--are already failing to deter teens.

How exactly would additional penalties, prosecution and enforcement help? Do we want to fill our crowded juvenile detention centers with kids whose only real offense is being impulsive or naïve? When these kids are placed in prison populations with violent offenders and are raped and assaulted, what exactly will be gained?

And when the teens who fall prey to these absurd laws are made to spend years away from their families, with poorer schooling, with kids who take drugs and make other poor choices as their only peers, we expect this to improve them, how?

Banfield writes: Despite the fact that kids should know how permanent their digital actions are, they don't. Many can't be trusted to consider future consequences past a few days

So how, then, will making the consequences of a dumb choice even harsher prevent the impulsivity which is characteristic of adolescence and which, by definition, involves failing to consider consequences? This is like randomly poisoning kegs of beer in hopes of stopping teen drinking.

Banfield worries about a girl who killed herself after her sex pix were forwarded around--but does she think being labeled a sex offender for life couldn't make someone suicidal? She discusses how sexting might "ruin" someone's life, but prosecuting them for it wouldn't do this?

We know these kids are already failing to consider the potentially dire outcomes from these choices--so making the consequences more dire by scapegoating a few unlucky kids will do what, Ashleigh?

Einstein once said that insanity is taking the same action and expecting different results. America's criminal justice policies reflect this insanity--and Banfield's column crystallizes the complete bankruptcy of trying to use criminal law for a purpose to which it is utterly unsuited.

Teens are going to act impulsively--if we want them to become healthy and productive adults, we need to protect them from the consequences of their immature actions, not criminalize them. Sending a few token kids to prison for lengthy terms--and let's face it, the ones who go away aren't going to be rich and white with good attorneys--isn't going to stop "sexting."

All it will do is feed our continually growing prison population and make a few cynical politicians and brainless journalists feel like they've "done something."