Rethinking juvenile justice

One of my pet peeves is the way we treat children who commit crimes. For some reason, we treat them more harshly than we do adults. We feel compelled sentence them to long sentences, long mandatory minimums, and sentences with no possibility of parole. We like to charge them as adults, the younger the better, and inexplicably place children in prison with adults.

More bizarre is that we allow this to occur despite knowing what could happen to these kids. It makes no sense for us to charge 8-year-olds as adults. It makes no sense for us to imprison a 14-year-old to life without the possibility of parole. It makes even less sense to lock them in solitary confinement or sentence them to death.

The latter the Supreme Court addressed several years ago. They banned juvenile executions in 2005. However, life without parole still remained in place. Now they have struck that down as well, and made the ban retroactive: Continue reading

One Ottawa Boy’s Hell: part 2

Last year I wrote about a case in which a Mountie faced numerous charges for torturing his son. The man’s excuse for this behavior was that his son was out of control and misbehaved. The man’s wife, the victim’s stepmother, claimed the boy made sexual advances toward her. All of this was used to justify locking the child in a basement, starving him nearly to death, beating him daily, and forcing him to do exercises.

None of this made much sense, but at the time I was unable to find out more information about the case. A recent article, however, provides some insight into the man’s actions: Continue reading

Bulletin Board v288

Absurdity reigns in campus sexual assault trials — There’s an old legal adage that good facts make good law, and bad facts make bad law. In the case of campus sexual assault, it may be that absurd facts will — eventually — make good law too. About five years ago, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights issued a letter that would change the face of campus sexual misconduct proceedings at colleges across the country.

Boy alleging rape by father says also abused in foster care — A boy who was removed from the family home after allegedly being raped by his father and forced to have sex with his mother was further sexually abused while in foster care, a trial has heard. The now 12-year-old has so far spent five days giving evidence via video-link about alleged abuse by his parents in their Waterford home. He has alleged his father raped him, sexually abused him with a hot poker and forced him to have sex with his mother over the course of several years from when he was about six years old.

Catholic Church issues public apology for sex abuse of priests 20 years ago — Uruguay’s Roman Catholic Church said it is ashamed over the “abhorrent acts” committed by its priests who were accused of sexually abusing three persons who were in their teens 20 years ago even as it made a public apology for their acts. In a letter on its website, the church denounced the acts, lamenting that the crimes went unpunished because the statute of limitation has elapsed, the Associated Press reports. Continue reading

Maryland lawmakers block abuse support bill

It takes great deal of courageous to talk about one’s experience of abuse in public. It takes much more to do it as an effort to get legislation passed to assist other victims of abuse. It takes something unheard of to do it two years in a row, only to see the bill ignored and tossed aside. This is what C.T. Wilson faced in Maryland:

For the second year in a row, he put it all out there: the shame, the fear, the self-loathing, the pain, the dark details of his horrific, repeated rape.

An Army veteran and attorney, Maryland Del. C.T. Wilson (D-Charles) stood before his colleagues in Annapolis, confessed that he “really, really” didn’t want to be there and told them why he doesn’t sleep much at night. Why he hoped his children would never be boys. Why he knows he is “a monster on the inside.”

And for the second year in a row, lawmakers in the state legislature put all that in a drawer. And closed it.

“It’s usually the case when we tell our stories,” Wilson said. “Nobody wants to hear this. And we want to be heard.”

Wilson wants his fellow delegates to understand what the adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse endure. And what recourse they have years and years later. And for two years, he has sponsored legislation aimed at helping them.

As it stands, a criminal case against an abuser can be pursued anytime, no matter how long ago the abuse happened.

But a civil case — the kind of action that can get a patient’s treatment paid for — has a statute of limitations. Victims have seven years once they reach adulthood to file a civil suit against a molester or a school, a team or a church that enabled that abuser.

And unless a victim comes to terms with the abuse, recognizes it, fights through it and files a civil suit before age 25, no dice. And that’s a big problem. Because many victims of childhood sexual abuse repress the memories in order to survive. Some even kill themselves.

Since Maryland removed the statute of limitations on the criminal cases, I see no reason why this should not apply to civil cases. As Wilson notes, many victims do not report their experiences until years after the abuse happened. In those instances, they will begin addressing whatever issues developed as a result of the abuse. It makes sense to allow them to file a suit for damages as this would be the point where the damages would be most apparent. Continue reading

Christian Couple Prepares to Open First U.S. Home for Sex-Trafficked Boys

While I am not a fan injecting religion into solving human rights issues, I do welcome support for victims of sexual violence when it seems genuine. In this case, it appears completely genuine. A Christian couple decided to open a home for boys used for sex trafficking:

Chris and Anna Smith, who are poised to open the first safe house in the United States for sex trafficked boys, didn’t set out to be trailblazers. They founded their Christian ministry, Restore One, in 2012, hoping to open a facility for girls in Greenville, N.C.

Anna, a sex trafficking survivor, worked as an intern at a similar facility, Hope House, in Asheville, N.C. When Hope House founder Emily Fitchpatrick learned the Smiths wanted to open a home, she asked them to consider taking in boys.

“That wasn’t something we wanted to pioneer,” Anna Smith told me.

Then the Smiths heard Tina Frudt, human trafficking survivor and founder of Courtney’s House, describe the plight of boys who came to her program.

“There are no places that boys can go,” Frudt told The Daily Reflector.

According to one study, as many as 50 percent of sexually exploited minors are males and yet there are few resources for them, including residential treatment facilities.

“That’s when we said yes to boys,” Anna said.

The Anchor House, the name the Smiths chose for the home, faced immediate problems. The first was that they could not find a suitable location for the home. It took them a year to find a location large enough for their needs. They eventually found a spot in Greenville, North Carolina. That led to the second problem: Continue reading

What Male Survivors Face

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. In an effort to raise awareness, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) released seven videos of survivors sharing their stories. In a rare move, RAINN included two men’s stories. According a CNN article:

Men account for 8% of RAINN’s online hotline users under 18 and 18% of callers older than 18, according to data provided to the organization. Men and boys often discuss sexual abuse that occurred in the past, with 70% of men and boys discussing an event that occurred more than five years ago and 58% of them discussing a repeated event in the past that is no longer occurring.

This is likely because RAINN rarely does any outreach to help male victims, and provides little information and support for male victims on their website. To this point, much of the information on their site redirects men to 1in6.org, an organization specifically designed to assist male victims.

That said, at least RAINN included the men’s stories, and thankfully CNN chose to feature them in the article. It is important for people to hear what men and boys experience. It would have been better if RAINN had included someone who was assaulted by a woman so that people could see women commit sexual violence as well, but again, it is surprising they included male victims at all. Continue reading

Social Justice Apologism

I suppose this was only a matter of time:

An active member of the Norwegian Socialist Left Party (SV) who described himself as an ardent “feminist and anti-racist” explained the difficulty he experienced accepting that he had been anally raped by a male migrant. He said he didn’t blame the man for the attack, and regretted the fact he had been sent back to Somalia.

I read that four times before I could process it. I could not figure out how someone feel guilty about a rapist being deported. It is an odd position to take, and it is made all the more bizarre by how Karsten Nordal Hauken describes “feeling nothing” after being raped by the migrant. He states in the original article (Google translated):

After the rape, I felt I was pushed out of a way of life that I was well inside. I’ve lost so much time, and it was the worst consequence. New conditions and new friends I can always get. The bond that was weakened by years in a haze of marijuana smoke can be strengthened again. But the years in which self-loathing was the only self-esteem I had, the years disappeared in depression and cannabis use, they do not I get back.

It is scary and taboo to talk about young men’s emotional life. I feel forgotten and ignored. But I dare not talk about it, I’m afraid of attacks from all sides. I am afraid that no girls want me, and that other men laugh at me. Afraid that I’ll be perceived as anti feminist when I say that young men who are struggling should get more attention.

But what the hell, we are struggling. We must be seen!

Hauken is right. This type of violence is something we need to talk about to show that women are not the only victims and men are not the only perpetrators. Male victims should not have to keep their assaults secret out of fear of not fitting in or infuriating a hate movement.

Yet my point in posting his words is to show how much this affected him. He fell into self-loathing because of how he thought women, men, and feminists would perceive him. This was not something he could write off, which makes his reaction to learning that the rapist would be deported all the more bizarre: Continue reading