Wednesday, February 13, 2013

MA - Finegold backs tougher sex offender laws

Original Article


By Matt Murphy

BOSTON — With anecdotal evidence suggesting computer crimes on the rise and children facing increased risks on the Internet, a bill introduced in the Senate this session would expand the state’s asset forfeiture laws to allow prosecutors to go after the computers, cell phones, cars and homes of child predators convicted on child pornography and enticement charges.

The effort to update the law in the mold of 22 other states follows what prosecutors described as “among the worst cases of child abuse ever prosecuted” when referring to the case of [name withheld], a Wakefield resident and Level One sex offender accused of raping 13 children who he and his wife babysat in their home.

The [name withheld] case has also spawned calls from lawmakers for reforms of the Sex Offender Registry Board.

Sen. Barry Finegold, D-Andover, and Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian are teaming up to push an expansion of the state’s asset forfeiture laws to include criminal convictions on child pornography and enticement cases, hoping to divert any revenue collected to computer crime investigation and prosecution.

As a parent you want to do everything you can to protect your children. Like most kids, my kids are on their iPad, their iTouches and it’s scary out there. I think we need to give the law enforcement people, the district attorney and attorney general the tools they need to prevent these heinous crimes,” Finegold said yesterday, sitting down in his office with Koutoujian to discuss the bill he has filed this session.

Under state law, prosecutors can seek judicial approval to seize the assets of defendants convicted on controlled substance or human trafficking offenses, but not child pornography. The bill would extend the current law to include those types of cases, generating a modest revenue stream to help fund what Koutoujian described as underfunded and understaffed computer crimes units.

The money collected through property seizures of cell phones, computers, cars, and in some cases homes used in the commission of the crime could also be used under the proposal for victim services and digital literacy education programs for families.

I don’t believe this is going to be any kind of cash cow,” Koutoujian said.

According to the Massachusetts Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce, the State Police in 2012 made 16 arrests, received 134 tips, conducted 44 investigations and performed 318 forensic examinations in Middlesex County alone on child cyber-crimes. Statewide, there were 60 arrests, 1,553 investigations and 483 computer exams in 2011.
- And how many convictions? Just because you are arresting tons of people doesn't mean they are all convicted or guilty!

It’s terrifying that one out of every seven children who are regular Internet users will receive a sexual solicitation on the Internet and that’s why we need to push for legislation like this,” Finegold said.
- And what they don't tell you is that most are solicited by peers, not some stranger.

Finegold said he and his wife were researching day care options for their one-year-old son when the [name withheld] story broke. “It shocks the system,” Finegold said.

As many as 22 other states have similar laws on the books, including neighboring Connecticut. Koutoujian said the threat of asset forfeiture could also serve as a deterrent.
- Yeah right, it's not a deterrent for drug dealers / users, so why do you expect us to believe it will be here?


deathklok said...

I don't have any issues with this as long as they only seize the assets of real kiddy porn producers and the revenue collected goes into a fund that benefits the child being abused. Unfortunately crafty prosecutors may take advantage of this policy to rake in boatloads of cash from an ever growing definition of "child porn abusers" and the only people to benefit will be them. Power corrupts...

Lance Mitaro said...

Another misnomer is labeling someone a "child pornographer" that just has a simple possession charge. To lawmakers and DA's, they think EVERYONE is guilty by "association" which is simply not true, but they spin it to their advantage.

kikipt said...

But when we are talking about cars or houses, how do we differentiate common property? Does everyone in the family get punished by losing assets, even though they may have had nothing to do with the "crime?" The degree to which sippenhaft is alive and well in the US is astonishing. We have lost all sense that punishment should be only for actions that have actually been done and that cause harm, and not just for potential actions - that collateral damages are not acceptable in the name of vindication and retribution. None of the registration laws seem to take this into consideration. Should we be surprised in a country that so readily accepts the murder of innocent people abroad in the name of a hypothetical "security" that the incursion of this thinking at home would not be far behind?