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International Megan’s Law, A Law That Fails Miserably To Make Its Case (But Which Is About To Be Enacted, Even So)

The erosion of the rights of the Registered Sex Offender to travel despite no evidence that they are committing crimes

We are assured, both by the media, who have mastered the art of feeding a credulous (and hungry) public, as well as by our government minders who continue to whittle away our few remaining rights that, on the strength of their pervasive hunches, sex offender registrants are surely committing waves of sex crimes in their travels abroad and must be stopped with the broadest strokes possible.

Since, in their estimation, Registrants can have no legitimate need for travel, not really being quite human and lacking complex, rich or virtuous lives, they should be thwarted in their ambitions for travel through the imposition of a global system of incapacitation. Indeed, that Registrants have not already been permanently grounded is now seen as an appalling ‘loophole’ which must now be indignantly slammed shut. Such “loopholes” are what used to be thought of as ‘freedoms’ which society, in its current state of zero-tolerance for any level of perceived risk, can no longer afford. The aim of this new restrictive regime is to contain American Registrants entirely within the borders of the United States, itself an increasingly inhospitable realm whose expanding zones of hostility must be negotiated with ever more extreme wariness. In turn, other countries are also pursuing similar regimens of containment for their own Registrants, aided and facilitated by the U.S., INTERPOL, and myriad governmental, and non-governmental, organizations.

This wave of extraterritorial crime, alleged by our government representatives of opportunity and reelection under advisement from the social entrepreneurs of continuous fear, is the stated reason for eliminating Registrants’ freedom of movement.

In this instance, as in all such instances, their remedies expand the scope and power of government and infuse law enforcement with greater authority to oversee and constrain the movement of designated and despised citizens, which is to say, those whose status has been methodically eroded to the level of a permanently degraded underclass, the untermenschen of our age.

The “International Megan’s Law” (IML), authored by Republican Chris Smith in the U.S. House, is one bill, in a suite of “anti-trafficking“ bills, which have been crammed through Congress over the last several years. Republicans are clearly their authors and architects but they are not without their Democrat supporters, eager to signal their own commitment to moral virtue and unwilling to let the anti-trafficking train, a runaway pop culture success, leave the station without them.

Elizabeth Nolan Brown, writing for Reason Magazine, said: “These new laws aren’t organic responses by legislators in the face of an uptick in human trafficking activity or inadequate current statutes. They are in large part the result of a decades-long anti-prostitution crusade from Christian “abolitionists” and anti-sex feminists, pushed along by officials who know a good political opportunity when they see it and by media that never met a moral panic they didn’t like.”

Undergirding the exigency of this legislation is the slightest scattering of spare, and highly debatable, statistics. In the case of IML, the numbers of children said to be being ‘sexually trafficked’ worldwide are expressed in the following under “Findings of Congress”:

“5. The commercial sexual exploitation of minors in child sex trafficking and pornography is a global phenomenon. The International Labour Organization has estimated that 1,8000,000 (sic) children worldwide are victims of child sex trafficking and pornography each year.”

Leaving aside the obvious typo in the number (but instilling, nevertheless, further doubt for the capabilities of the bill’s author), then we must assume that the 1.8 million figure is backed up by some empirical research. If it is, then I have been unable to find it, despite spending hours digging through ILO’s (International Labour Organization) voluminous reports. Like all other such organizations, they now admit that data about child sex trafficking is extremely difficult to come by and necessarily imprecise but they do promise to get better data in the future. There is, however, every indication in their discussion of statistical methodologies that the 1.8 million number was arrived at through highly subjective probabilistic and culturally freighted assumptions.

Even leaving that aside, the 1.8 million figure’s inclusion in IML is not accompanied by any factual connection to registered American sex offenders. Only that, in another of its “Findings”: “(4) Law enforcement reports indicate that known child-sex offenders are traveling internationally.”

So, we are assured that American Registrants represent a significant threat to those 1.8 million children, but without any substantiation for that assertion, only that “child-sex offenders are traveling internationally”. No mention is made of how many American Registrants have been prosecuted by foreign governments or by the U.S. in its expanded extra-territorial role as prosecutor of Americans who commit sex crimes abroad (this happened in The Protect Act of 2003, a law with breathtaking constitutional implications in which the jurisdiction of the U.S. became, effectively, the entire world).

Are those numbers available somewhere, such as from the U.S. Department of Justice? If so, I have not been able to locate them. As with the number of children murdered by sex offenders in the U.S. (a number which I have counted to be around one or two annually), the D.O.J. appears to be loathe to publish those statistics. We can only guess why that might be but my money is on the likelihood that they are perceived as highly unimpressive and unhelpful numbers to the lawmakers and social re-engineers bent on expanding the punitive state.

Much like the premise of American sex offender registries themselves, there is no perceived obligation by the authors of these bills to establish a nexus between those previously convicted of crimes and future propensity for committing new crimes. We are simply assured that such a nexus does exist and are expected to make the logical and convenient inference that Registrants are traveling to commit sex crimes in other countries, even when their original crimes, many of which happened decades earlier, took place entirely within the United States.

This logical inference appears to be of a piece with the ‘common sense’ that has informed criminal justice for many decades and which have made the United States, in both relative and absolute numbers, the largest incarceral state on the planet.

As of this writing (January 23, 2016) IML looks like a cinch to become the law of the land, with passage anticipated in both Houses of Congress. If it does, it will fall to us to challenge it in court. Even if it doesn’t, current administrative laws, already in place and which result in a de-facto ban upon international travel by sex offenders to much of the world, through a system of ‘notification’ of foreign governments by the U.S. Government, must themselves be fought in the courts.

Either way, Registrants must be prepared for years of struggle to defend themselves in the near-total absence of courageous voices unwilling to take up their cause.

By David Kennerly

____________________

Sources:

H.R.515 – International Megan’s Law to Prevent Child Exploitation and Other Sexual Crimes Through Advanced Notification of Traveling Sex Offenders, 114th Congress (2015-2016)

https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/515/text

TACKLING THE DATA DEARTH: The global scale of commercial sexual exploitation of children by Jordana Dawson Hayes and Mark Capaldi, ECPAT, June 2015

http://www.ecpat.net/sites/default/files/ECPAT%20Journal_5%20June%202015.pdf

The War on Sex Trafficking Is the New War on Drugs

And the results will be just as disastrous, for “perpetrators” and “victims” alike.

Elizabeth Nolan Brown, Reason Magazine, November 2015

https://reason.com/archives/2015/09/30/the-war-on-sex-trafficking-is

Richard Estes, whose numbers are widely cited by NGOs and government, has since disowned his own statistics. Today, Richard Estes says: “Credible numbers do not exist.” “The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children In the U. S., Canada and Mexico” by Richard J. Estes and Neil Alan Weiner. [Includes statistical methodology for arriving at numbers. Very revealing.] http://www.gems-girls.org/Estes%20Wiener%202001.pdf

ECPAT still cites his, and other old and discredited numbers in its “Fact” sheets: “R. Estes and N. Weiner. Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. University of Pennsylvania, 2001, page 144. “ http://www.missingkids.com/en_US/documents/CCSE_Fact_Sheet.pdf

“No reliable national estimate exists of the incidence or prevalence of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States.” This is from the U.S. Justice Department referring to data about child prostitution in the United States.

“The bogus claim that 300,000 U.S. children are ‘at risk’ of sexual exploitation”

By Glenn Kessler, The Washington Post, May 28, 2015

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2015/05/28/the-bogus-claim-that-300000-u-s-children-are-at-risk-of-sexual-exploitation

Equality Now: “Trafficking women and children for sexual exploitation is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world. This, despite the fact international law and the laws of 134 countries criminalize sex trafficking. At least 20.9 million adults and children are bought and sold worldwide into commercial sexual servitude, forced labor and bonded labor. About 2 million children are exploited every year in the global commercial sex trade. Almost 6 in 10 identified trafficking survivors were trafficked for sexual exploitation. Women and girls make up 98% of victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation.”

http://www.equalitynow.org/node/1010

Join the discussion

  1. Otis

    Too bad they can’t keep suspected terrorist under control. I am a vet from Vietnam and things like this cause us who have committed 20 years ago and none since. Would commit suicide. It was my drinking that made me astray, thats why I quit. Been in control ever since. Very few commit crimes again and the ones that have are already committed for life, so leave the rest of us alone, we have a right to travel and see new sites. I fought for that right.

  2. Otis

    Too bad they can’t keep suspected terrorist under control. I am a vet from Vietnam and things like this cause us who have committed committed sex crimes, and have not committed any crimes after 20 years ago and none since. because I was a drunk. It was my drinking that made me astray, that’s why I quit. Been in control ever since. Very few go back again and the ones that have are already committed for life, so leave the rest of us alone, we have a right to travel and see new sites. I fought for that right. Once a person serves their time, it is his right to rehabilitation. I fought for my country in Vietnam, did 20 in the Army Purple Heart Bronze Star and no where to live even though I can afford it.

  3. 4sensiblePolicies

    Fantastic piece of work Mr. Kennerly. One shudders to ponder the implications if this law is not successfully challenged. Mere assertions without so much as a shred of evidence will be used to pass more and more stringent laws until we, as mere law-abiding citizens, are strangled under the weight.

    This law must be challenged as it is our basic right to be able to travel to visit family and friends, for religious pilgrimage, or to earn a living as a productive citizen. It is sorrowful to realize that our own government views nearly one-million of it’s own citizens as sub-human with no reason to travel internationally other than to engage in sexual exploitation. With this mind-set, how long before we cannot travel briefly to another state or a nearby city without our movements being tracked like an animal? Who will protect us from our own so-called leaders?

    • David Kennerly

      Thank you!

      Well, they already ARE tracking us within the U.S. through the requirements of each state’s registration regimen in which we must report our current location within X number of days at any particular spot that is beyond our own registered domicile.

      One good thing that seems to be coming out of the international travel notification government overreach is that it seems to be forming, at least what I hope to be, an expanded group of activists to challenge injustice.

      I had thought, when I first started realizing what was about to happen to sex offenders, vis-a-vis international travel, about five years ago, that it might be regarded as a bit too elite of a concern given that many, if not most, Registrants were being battered senseless and shoved to the furthest margins of society. After all, jetting off to Europe or Asia might be considered down the list of priorities when many Registrants are truly homeless and penniless and denied shelter in the worst winter storms, for example.

      I am happy to say that I now believe I was wrong. Regardless of ones material circumstances, each and every one of these liberty-crushing incursions into our lives resonates with other Registrants and each must be challenged as an act of solidarity among us.

      The int’l travel ban sends a signal to all Registrants from our society and our government, including those who are out on the street and living rough, a gps bracelet permanently wrapped around their ankle: “You are unworthy in every respect and we are crushing any dreams you may have once had for a better future. There is no escape.”

      They have, and are continuing to go, too far. They should not assume that ours is an unlimited capacity to tolerate injustice. We need to illustrate for them just what that looks like.

      • Timmr

        I had also thought that this issue was not of concern for most of us struggling to just make ends meet. Thing is this IML now violates the US Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. No one is safe from oppressive laws that follow this. The US is now making up its own rules and ignoring long evolving traditions of individual rights developed in this country and the rest of the civilized world. As much as I would like to disown this country, I don’t want to see my country go down the road to totalitarianism, repeating the same mistakes made by Germany and Russia. I have three children and worry about what kind of country they will have to live in.

  4. Bobby Johnson

    I think it’s a damn shame to live in a country, in the year 2016 that boasts as the best, the mightiest, and the most free to the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to be so damn contradictory of everything that it once stood for all for a little bit of “Benjamins” that hold no sentimental value of any kind whatsoever.

    The mentality and mindset of this country is so screwed up and twisted that with the right advertisement and marketing, most people in this country would believe that men can get pregnant and pigs can actually grow wings and fly. Most Americans have been so brain-damaged, mentally beat the hell down, and hoodwinked into dependent-based thinking that it should be a crime to think independently and to be open-minded regarding social problems and life in general.

    I cannot believe people actually have been absorbed in the social media propaganda that the “underbelly or the lowest of the lowest class of people” as most would have it, would travel internationally only for the sole purpose to engage in sex acts with children. It is a damn shame that people literally internalize this nonsense without having an open-mind and simple logic (a God given trait) to actually challenge what has been presented before them and investigate the so called claims or arguments that cast doubt and are questionable as to the validity in their very words. Unfortunately people just accept it as face value without question due to the essence behind the verbiage that is iterated to the sheeple with a name attached to the proposed law to be set in stone instead of wondering how do they come up with their so called statistics and numbers without having any real and true empirical evidence to give it weight and value.

    I do believe it will progress from sex offenders to murderers, drug traffickers, then on to all violent felons then to all felons and serious misdemeanors that go into the prison system to be banned from international travel. Just like the progressed the DNA to only sex offenders to now all felons that go into the prison system to have their DNA extracted and stored in a database.

    I truly do hate to be in this country in this day and age and should’ve left when I had the chance to fruitfully enjoy my life. Now I think I may never have that chance.

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