Barbaric consequences to “show me yours and I’ll show you mine” in a digital world

By Sandy. . . Imagine being fourteen years old today, in a world where technology is changing the rules faster than they are being written.

John Grasso, a criminal defense attorney and a former police officer, has captured that situation with the brilliant and apt metaphor of stepping into quicksand. You don’t know it’s there until you are in it, and if you don’t go in over your head with the first step, one slight move in the wrong direction will pull you to the bottom, cutting off air and light and squeezing the life from your helpless body.

This is exactly what putting a fourteen-year-old on the sex offender registry does, and this is what the Barrington, Rhode Island police did when they chose to charge a fourteen-year-old boy with distributing pornography for his participation in a sexting situation.

Rhode Island law allows this, but it also gives other choices. The fourteen-year-old girl who sent the sexually explicit selfies to her boyfriend was granted the benefit of one of those other choices. He was not. His foolishly passing them on to some friends of the same age is being charged the same as if he were a fully-grown man involved in a massive child pornography ring.

If convicted, he could go to prison, bad enough in itself, but the true, life-destroying punishment will kick in when he is forced to register as a sexual criminal on the Rhode Island sex offender registry. If convicted, that will happen whether he goes to prison or not.

And to what end?

Even though scientific studies show quite clearly that sex offender registries and all of the baggage that goes with them do not further the cause of public safety, let’s pretend for a moment that they do.

What is there about this boy-child that the public needs to be protected from? If another girl-child sends him nude selfies, is he likely, given what he is going through now, to again send them to his friends? Is he at risk of graduating from teenage stupidity to molesting children in the park? Will he stay fourteen forever, locked for life into the hormone-driven, impulsive poor-decision making that characterize the teen years?

Or is he so traumatized by this situation that he has, without doubt, learned all the lessons he needs to learn and some that he didn’t?

And what of the police department that is choosing to charge him with felony child pornography? One choice, the most lenient, would almost certainly have been sufficient to assure this behavior would not be repeated by him. Even the choice bestowed upon the young lady who took and sent the selfies in the first place would have been kinder. A conviction for sexting, the crime with which she is charged, is not a felony, and it precludes sex offender registration.

The third option, the one being visited upon the fourteen-year-old young man, is not lenient; it is not kind; it is, by anyone’s standards, cruel, even malicious. It is what happens when those in authority decide that the collateral consequence of a young life is worth their showing how tough they are on crime.

Possibly they do not know that true strength is shown through kindness, not cruelty.

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Sandy Rozek

Sandy is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.

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    • #38957 Reply
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      Anthony

      What do you expect from teenagers being curious about the nude photos they take of themselves and then being wreckless with the distribution. They should not be punished either based on a photograph.

    • #38961 Reply
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      Phys Ed

      Franz Kafka Would write a whole novel based on this. And George Orwell would as well. In case anyone hasn’t noticed, 1984 has been here since the turn of the millenium and even before.

    • #38965 Reply
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      James Coghill

      In prison we used to say: Do you know why there wasn’t a sexual revolution in the 60s in Europe? They didn’t need one! Which says quite a lot about us as a society. Old Victorian attitudes may have served us well in the Victorian era but they don’t work in the modern world. It’s like going back to stone knives and bear skins. It doesn’t belong here and now. Remember the Puritans? What happened to them? They died out because they only practiced sex for procreation and the same thing will happen to us if we keep doing this. What America is just waking up to is that the Internet is nothing more than a mirror. When you look at it you see yourself. Is that any reason to be sent to prison and declared a scourge of Society? America, the most paranoid nation on the planet. Always has to have something to fear.

    • #38967 Reply
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      anonymous

      As I have often said, like the closeted politician who votes harshly against laws in favor of gay rights, lawmakers fight hardest against that which they struggle with themselves. Since these laws are passed by heterosexual alpha males they take on an attitude that says, “if I can’t do it, no one can do it and if they do they’re gonna pay!” The fact that it happens to be a fellow 14 year old boy receiving the picture makes absolutely no difference, in fact he’s probably treated even more harshly out of some kind of deep seated jealousy. He’s just another very “bad boy” who looked at the images. In these men’s minds the girl is always innocent and so she shall remain, which is why the girl is never in trouble. What if her phone was found and the pictures got noticed or what if the girl sent the pictures to another girl? Would anyone be in trouble? Of course not! It’s only child pornography when it’s viewed by another guy, regardless of age, which of course is ridiculous. Just like the drug war, our laws obsesses over the issue and then serve only to perpetuate it. (if i can’t get high you can’t get high). It has very little to do with an actual problem and a whole lot to do with the lawmakers themselves and on which issues they choose to focus their time, resources and energy upon.

    • #38968 Reply
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      Gregg W Gustin

      This is absolutely ridiculous. It shouldn’t surprise me though, living in the police state that we now enjoy. Welcome to the Socialist States of America. I’ve always wondered, what if someone had nude pics of themselves that they took by themselves when they were underage, held onto those pics and sent them out say 20 years from now. Could they still be charged with distributing child porn?

      • #38988 Reply
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        WC_TN

        It’s the double standard that enrages me. Both kids did the same exact thing. Precious sweet little girl gets off easy; she made a mistake. Nasty-minded, vulgar little boy is utterly destroyed without question or remorse; this dirty minded little punk needs to be taught a lesson! This is the result of ultra-feminists being able to influence legislation. Should have never been allowed! Weak-kneed men who sat by and watched it happen are just as much to blame. Where was their backbone when it was most direly needed?

        • #39003 Reply
          Sandy Rozek
          Sandy Rozek
          Admin

          Well, to be perfectly accurate, according to the source, she sent it to one person, for him only, presumably because she had feelings for him, while he sent it to others, number unknown, presumably for the purpose of showing off or sharing his conquest. They are both 14. They both used very poor judgement, which is what 14-year-olds do. Neither one should be subject to criminal charges. And having the registry in the equation is obscene beyond words.

    • #38970 Reply
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      Wearethepeople

      So Sad for this family. I know the hell that they are going though. Let alone the young man, who if like my grandson will be kicked out of school. Having to do school at home, and being put on house arrest for a year which will not count towards his sentencing. My grandson was made an example of, from his first hearing at the District Magistrates Office. This was when his Senior Criminal Justice Class was invited, but we were not because he was days over 18, and now an adult. Then the Vo-Tech student were invited by the DA. Also the Press was notified to attend. He should have gone to trial, but was afraid when the DA told him that he would make sure that he would spent 85 years in Prison. I was so stupid on the Laws. I thought he would get a slap on the wrist, have to pay a fine, or do work for the county. Nooo they sent my sweet loving grandson to Prison for for 3 years to 17 years. Someone must have seen that he was not what he had been Labeled, and was out with the minimum. I know that the Laws have gone way to far with the punishments of our children. This young man is a true example of how wrong the Laws are. The first thing that we should be fighting to get rid of is the Registry. No other crime has to be put through this Hell. If someone committed the crime, as to what had happened to Megan, and or Adam they would be in Prison for life, because it ended in Murder. Same with someone who had multiple victims. So why have a list when the recidivism rate is so low. This is not caused by the registry but this is the thought behind it from our Legislation.

      • #38990 Reply
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        WC_TN

        I can answer your question on why there is a registry in spite of the factually low recidivism rate.

        You’ve got these so-called “upstandin’ God-fearin’ Christian folk” who believe any amount of punishment short of lifetime (by this I mean until the day you die) imprisonment or execution is just not enough for someone who rapes a woman and especially for anyone who would molest a child. In their self-righteous indignation the public demands these laws and career politicians (who only care about staying in office) are only too glad to oblige these blood-thirsty monsters. Our politicians are not morally superior so as to be above this behavior! Just look at Mark Foley and Lester Wiener. Both pushed for the harshest sex offender laws possible all the while being sexual deviants themselves. Hypocrites!!!

    • #38978 Reply
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      david

      Putting 14 yo’s on the Registry= Human Rights Abuse

      • #38989 Reply
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        WC_TN

        Not putting both on the registry is not equal treatment under the law. Can anyone say undue gender bias?

      • #39004 Reply
        Sandy Rozek
        Sandy Rozek
        Admin

        We have the registry because of a reaction to a handful of truly heinous cases. We have kept the registry and it has morphed and grown to be the monster that it is because that is what the majority of the public wants. If people rose up en mass in every state and besieged their representatives’ offices and email and telephone demanding that the registry be done away with, we would see changes.

        • #39033 Reply
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          Bruce

          [it is because that is what the majority of the public wants.]Exactly, and with that the U.S. constitution can be over looked/stepped on/disrespected beyond imagination. All the courts/law makers/judges/should be seen as retarded and all on disability for that reason. How long have registered citizen’s been living under bridges and in make shift camps living like animals scratching flees and tics from their bodies?20 years or so now? How many registered citizen’s have been banished from city’s and towns across the globe?How many registered citizen’s have been murdered because of the registry? How many more will be murdered in years to come? [The majority of the public says] it was not because of the registry they were murdered it was because of the crime they did/convicted of. Besides they were only sex offenders. [The majority of the public] then praises the hero that murdered the registered citizen. They hold protests for lenience for these hero’s and the retards of the courts follow along and are more than willing. 20 or so years of laws and more laws that disrespect the constitution and not one of these retards have said ok, enough is enough.
          I remember years ago in Maine when registered citizen’s were murdered the hero simply knocked on the door and shot the person who answered,the state took the Maine registry off line for what 1 or 2 weeks? [The majority of the public says] ok you can put the registry back on line now after all the sex offender brought it on themselves. It is even beyond Imagination why these laws have to be challenged with all the blatant punishment that is right in front of the courts face. What else is in store for us? The future scares the heck out of me.

          • #39220 Reply
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            Bruce

            [it is because that is what the majority of the public wants.]
            I forgot to add something I think is important for some reason I am not sure of.
            Is this really what the majority wants? Sure,the ones that want this registry and all the BS that comes with it have no negative flak/feedback to deal with as they talk trash any where and every where. But what about the silent majority? Is there a silent majority on the registered citizens side? If so do they fear the negative flak/feedback that they will have to deal with so they stay silent just like the average registered citizen such as myself? How could the silent majority that disagrees with the registry speak out? They can not and will not. We will never know a percentage of the numbers. I for one would like to know. I mean would it not be interesting to know the true actual numbers? Or would I/we be disappointed?

        • #39069 Reply
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          Tim

          I have called so many times they asked that I stop and even added a threat, thinly veiled, that I’m guilty of harassing them. I rarely get to talk directly to my rep,Mark Pocan, or Paul Ryan instead one of their cronies takes the call. Often I am told I’m in the minority about SOR and so they ignore my points. Let us not pretend congress gives a damn. They are solely interested in remaining popular and getting re-elected. As useless as SOR is it is popular so that is all that counts. Constitution be damned.

    • #38979 Reply
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      Ranger11bv

      NARSOL, your acting like a reporter. What are you guys doing to stop the registry besides filing briefs??

      • #38983 Reply
        Robin Vander Wall
        Robin Vander Wall
        Admin

        As an all volunteer-organization supported by the generous contributions of others, we feel very good about the way we utilize those resources to “stop the registry.” What are YOU doing to stop them?

        You’ve heard it said. It’s easy to be a critic. Got any useful advice? Or just need to a place to criticize others?

        • #38987 Reply
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          WC_TN

          I think his frustration grows out of the fact that NARSOL is not near as active in other states as it is in California where the God-send Janice Bellucci has been knocking down ordinances left and right by legal action. Amicus curiae briefs are good and so is advocacy, but I think his frustration grows out of the fact we don’t have a Janice Bellucci in every state taking the fight to capital hill via the courts.

          • #38998 Reply
            Robin Vander Wall
            Robin Vander Wall
            Admin

            Janice has had marvelous success in California! But there’s a reason why her litigation has teeth. That’s because her legal actions are already supported by a California Supreme Court decision that strengthens her legal strategy. Imagine if the U.S. Supreme Court had already determined that residency restrictions were unconstitutional? How hard would it be to fight against local towns and cities and even states that tried to pass residency restrictions after the nation’s highest court ruled it unconstitutional? It would be a piece of cake, and the mere threat of litigation would be enough to stop laws attempting to establish residency restrictions. No big deal.

            In other words, there’s a HUGE difference fighting “up the hill” than “down the hill.” Janice is able to fight down the hill because she has solid state-level case law on her side. The cases NARSOL is involved with are cases fighting up the hill because we don’t yet have the powerful, supportive precedents from enough federal, appellate-level courts to make the terrain more manageable. We will eventually. But it takes time, legal strategy, money (LOTS of money), and a lot of patience. What we are doing is not “shooting fish in a barrel.” Anyone can do that, frankly speaking.

          • #39009 Reply
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            Hank

            The organization that Janice founded in california is the ACSOL, I regularly attend their quarterly meetings in LA. She truly is amazing, and yes, if we had a Janice Belluci in every state we would be much better off.

            I am a registered citizen and can relate to the frustration of some of the respondents. But instead of criticizing, let’s be grateful to everyone who has the courage to stand up for us against the uninformed law makers who foolishly pass ineffective laws under the guise of “tough on crime”, even when all the research proves that the registry does nothing to make society safer. What it does is create a subclass of unemployable, homeless citizens who are now forced to live off of government handouts.

            Thank you NARSOL for all that you do.

          • #39011 Reply
            Robin Vander Wall
            Robin Vander Wall
            Admin

            Thanks, Hank. Appreciate the Kudos. Amen to the rest!

          • #39018 Reply
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            Randall Flagg

            My question to Janice and everyone else involved in the fight is when do we revisit Smith VS Doe?
            Since 2003,have we not collected volumes of evidence that proves our case many times over?
            And how is it that Longo has not been put before the supreme Court to denounce the misused of his article that has been used against us from the start. An article that he Refutes as not fact based science or anything worthy of being cited in a court of law as fact.
            How can a Supreme Court now turn a blind eye to all of the evidence ,all the people that have been murdered,all the registrants who have been wrongfully terminated from jobs because its the convenient thing to do when coworkers show their intolerant asses.All the registrants denied a place to live,
            When will we have enough?

          • #39268 Reply
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            Saddles

            in this digital age of computers are people trying to be somebody? A computer is a form of communication but it appears to be a form of destruction or a tasty cake tool of destruction that man seems to device in their mind. Is government using this tool for their low value? Whatever the true value is it is invading the human mind is just as danger as biological warfare. Digitual warefare you might say. A lot of this computer stuff is an eyebrow raiser. Censorship has gone the way of balaam with all these types of operations.

            Most of you people on here try to get some answers but we all get justifable run arounds or harrassment to try and seek so true justice or understanding with these undercover issues. Is it sexting today or testing today with communication via the computer or is it some injustice or true justice that counts for true value.

            Sure we can all believe in the “big bang” theory or we can believe in where one comes from and we can all believe in helping others or have a don’t give a damn attitude. So who uses scruples today. People like NARSOL do and those fighting with government to know true justice and values.

      • #39398 Reply
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        Tim

        There is nothing like defending one’s self in reg. Vio. Cases.
        The indictment carries the words, “Failure to provide information.”
        They have ways of making you talk. Defend yourself.
        I’m 1-1 how bout you? BTW 94,bravo MOS:).

    • #38986 Reply
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      WC_TN

      This is what the ultra-feminist agenda has done to warp our laws. A girl and boy do the same exact thing. The girl gets the lenient option, but the boy is absolutely and without the slightest hint of mercy destroyed. I know I’ll take flack for this, but this is what we got when we let women get so involved in politics. This is just another path to ultra-feminists subverting and destroying all male authority. Make no mistake about it, these ultra-feminists don’t want to be equal to men. They want to be totally dominant and as evidenced here will stop at nothing. What better way to achieve their goal than to push for laws that forever end their civil rights as a helpless child? Talk about insidious child abuse under color of law!!! The weak-kneed men who sat by and let this happen are just as much to blame.

    • #39000 Reply
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      saddles

      Show me yours and I’ll show you mine is demonic as it goes. When I was caught up in my endeavor they showed me a basic picture of themself, fully clothed and I sent them a picture fo me fully clothed. Those on the other end ask for another picture. I said oh you want a nude picture. Common sense is the key to all this and that should tell one that police are playing a game and leading one astray via this intenet game.

      This is a ploy to temptation to those of a weak nature. They are the one’s giving the opportunity and they are the ones that tresspass against another. Law enforcement want to abuse with this spiritual internet force to con men out of their liberty. Most of the american public doesn’t even know how these internet stings arouse others with this sex enticement which is a govermental con game at best. I don’t care if one has the biggest potty mouth the bottom line is to drag one down to their level and than induce punishment, monotary gain or whatever. Its a techncal force at best via the internet and is so devious for any government that holds any true belief. Its a principal used in a wrong way.

    • #39400 Reply
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      Tim

      Normal human sexuality……….humming que es? In Wisconsin a crime to have more than 4 year diff in ages for goungsters. So no 16>21. 15>20. Abortion rates run 3-5K. All this equates to less new Wisconsin citizens. Young teen pregnancy rates down.

      IML, we have American FED moving against the repute of citizens to protect who? THOSE outside the constitutional established breath. To protect foreign nationals!
      Are they operating under Treaty? They lack standing or basis to act in the interests of nontaxpayers! Why no ,D.C. Protest? Keepers of the purse? Me thinks not.Thank you to our Mr. Ryan for leading the charge with that 1.3T (That # is 1320B /50 states. Not the budget hawk R, the sequester move had. Now he up and quits.
      He knows he got stuck with Schumer(D Ny) and his peeps who just made another tech move by automating facial rec. Software. The tighter ya squeeze…
      BTW Shiners folks are the same group pitching DACA, more foreign nats. I say give each daya phone so you can tax. Find the phone find them. I have been a cash man cook for years, do hair too. Hard working and dependable but work to cheap. Making them legal by phone I’m with that. What the FED has not told you is this. The mass use of duplicate SS#, was lucrative because employed foreign nats. using them paid Into the system but never filed requesting refund. All cash in none out! For years this went on. So why the stall on real immigration law enforcement and the FEDs desire for jurisdiction is apparent. Typical American trait blame others. The Russians seem popular in the press lately. I digress.

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