Saturday, February 04, 2006

A Bomb For You...

For those of you who retain any last shred of faith in our justice system, it may come as a shock to learn that Denton is home to dozens of people convicted of sex crimes against children 13 and younger, all the way down to an appalling age 4, who never served a single day in jail. You may be more shocked to discover that some of these predators have been convicted of multiple offenses against multiple children. You may be even more shocked to realize this same injustice is occurring all across our nation. If someone rapes a child in America, he or she might not serve any jail time.

Sit with that a moment… The same system of “justice” that sentences vandals, petty thieves and marijuana users to jail, might release a child rapist back into your neighborhood. As if personal property and morality were more important than public safety, and pot smokers and pilferers were more threatening than perverted predators.

This disparity is not for lack of resources. After all, the United States leads the world in incarceration rates, largely due to Draconian drug policies implemented in the name of “protecting the children”. Our judges lock up a higher percentage of our population than Iraq, China, Iran, and North Korea, yet many of these judges fail to even temporarily incarcerate child predators. And American children are being abducted, raped, videotaped for the perverse pleasure of monsters, tortured, and murdered. In at least one case last year, a beautiful little girl named Jessica Lunsford was murdered by a previously convicted molester who was set free to enter her bedroom window, abduct her, rape her repeatedly for two days, and bury her alive in her neighbor’s yard.

This is inexcusable. It should make us sick at heart, angry in spirit, and most importantly, active. A national judicial scandal of this magnitude should cause massive political reverberations, as people elect to replace the legislators, district attorneys and judges who lack the insight or the concern to prioritize the protection of children, families, and communities.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for the national media to cover this issue. Pundits have repeatedly reported that Vermont Judge Cashman sentenced an admitted child rapist (the girl was six years old, with assaults occurring over a four-year period) to a pathetic 60 days in jail. However, these reporters spun the story as an isolated incident involving a single renegade judge who needs to be removed, and they failed to cover the broader issue.

None dare call it corruption, but information regarding probated sentences for child rapists is easily available online at sex offender registry sites. At the very least, media moguls have been negligent. Are they hoping people will simply raise an outcry against one judge, engage in primal scream therapy, and then move on to the next flavor of the month, without changing the system itself?

I was determined to find out, so I contacted representatives at CNN, FOX, and MSNBC, and they didn’t even want to talk about it. They didn’t return my calls or my emails. I’ve contacted the Denton Record-Chronicle over several months, to no avail. Finally, while waiting for police to arrive at my home so I could report a toy bullet that was suspiciously left in the back of my car on Martin Luther King Day, I called our local child advocacy center about the possibility of joining forces. I was told they didn’t want to get involved in political issues that might upset the system of cooperation between law enforcement officials, district attorneys, and therapists. The one group that remained unmentioned was the children themselves.

The truth is painful, but we have to face the fact that our society is failing our kids. We teach them to obey adults, to respect their elders, to stay quiet, to not resist. Our school districts are often less secure than our shopping malls, lacking sufficient security to prevent violent individuals (including predators, terrorists, or mentally unstable students) from harming children, yet we expend resources to teach these kids the ultimate lesson in acquiescence, forcing them to drop their pants and urinate on command, when being “drug free” (excluding “good” prescription drugs like amphetamines and anti-depressents, which render children easier to control) takes precedence over freedom from violence. Then we fail to provide them with information about their bodies and their rights. Having rendered them psychologically helpless to defend themselves, we then release convicted child predators into their neighborhoods. And when children who are raped grow up to develop drug dependencies (as many do, trying to self-medicate symptoms associated with depression, anxiety, and PTSD) or to become prostitutes (again, trying to self-medicate), we’ll throw those crime victims in jail for their involvement with prohibited drugs and prostitution, while child rapists walk the street to create more victims (and therefore more drug abuse and prostitution). To add insult to injury, our federal government will deny the drug-using rape victims financial aid for college (thanks to a controversial anti-drug clause contained in the Higher Education Act of 1998), while their rapists attend universities with our tax dollars. That's right. Our federal legislators don't want tax dollars to support the illegal drug use, but they will buy the knife, duct tape, pharmaceutical drugs and videocamera the child pornographers will use on their next victims.

As a survivor of sexual abuse and child pornography who gave personal testimony to a Texas committee hearing on child advocacy, my blood is boiling. As a father of two beautiful children I delivered with my own trembling hands, I am afraid for them. More importantly, I am bound and determined to do anything in my legal power to change this deplorable injustice.

You can join me and other survivors, parents, and advocacy groups, who are creating a new organization called Building BLOCK - Better Lives for Our Communities and Kids, which will expose this nightmare, along with the authorities who perpetuate the perpetration. Building BLOCK will offer an interactive U.S. map that will provide county by county contact information, case profiles, broad data, and photos of these renegade judges, district attorneys, police chiefs, and school officials, who refuse to prioritize public safety over private morality and health.

Incompetent and corrupt officials take note. The people have grown weary of the ineptitude and apathy that allows fundamental liberties to deteriorate while violence devastates our communities. If you do not prioritize public safety over personal morality, we will ensure you are deprioritized at the ballet box, and shamed in the public eye. If you have kids, hug them tight when you tuck them in tonight. They deserve your protection. And if you aren’t enraged yet, you must be dead or asleep. Here’s to waking up and breaking the silence.

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