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March 6, 2007

Star Tribs "Getting Tough on Child Porn"

An article titled "Getting tough on child porn" was in the Star Tribune this past Sunday (still available in the archives on StarTribune.com). The article states that "federal prison sentences for child porn producers more than doubled between 1994 and 2005." One of the reasons that these sentencing guidelines are getting so high is because of the "repeat nature of the offenses," in other words, offenders are being charged with multiple counts as they more than likely do not posess only one pornographic item. One of the cases mentioned in the article was about a first-time offender who ended up getting sentenced 30 years in prison. The article also brought up the resulting disparity of the sentencing in that "people can get much shorter sentences for much more violent crimes."
This is certainly an example of the government making a strong statement about the crime through the severity of the sentences; and rightfully so as there is no argument about how horrible it is and how damaging for those affected. However, let's take a look at it from another perspective. Do you think that the harsher sentencing guidelines are the best solution? Does 30 years in prison properly rehabilitate this sort of offender? If not, what does? Shorter sentences, longer sentences, rehabilitative programs, counseling, etc. ? Does the dangerousness of the criminal and the interest in keeping him/her from the public justify the cost of keeping them imprisoned for 30 years? What do you think?

March 4, 2007

Dateline. "How to catch a Predator"

I read the Dateline entry posted by Jon with interest. This program is one of my favorite TV program. I watch this program with my 13 year old daughter sometimes because I think there is a lot to be learnt from watching it. "How to Catch a predator" has reveal a lot about the inner workings of sex predators and how the lure young girls. For us parents, this program is a tool on how to keep our kids safe.
The crititisms of this program is desingenous and just out of sentiment. How can NBC be critisized for exposing people who are out to hurt young people. In one of the episods, the predators included, a rabbi, church youth worker, US service man, Medical Dr, etc. What does this tell us? This tells me that ordinary people can be capable of terrible things. What puzzles me is how a community can question the intents of this program.
I think exposing these people is the right thing to do.

February 28, 2007

Dateline NBC

I was wondering if anyone else has been watching the Dateline NBC episodes on "To Catch A Predator" where they set up a sting operation to catch people soliciting underage youths for sexual activites. I am wondering what other peoples thoughts on the program are, and if they approve/disapprove of their methods. I am all for what they are doing, and I think by broadcasting it on national TV not only are the perpetrators being legally punished, they are being publically humiliated. I liken this somewhat to what Foucault described in the begining of his book where he describes the public punishments. I did see the one episode where they City actually had a town hall meeting where people could express their opinions on the program. I was amazed at how many people were against Dateline doing this report. I am unsure of what negative impact this would have on a community. This occurs all over the country, and those who don't realize it are the ones who are opening themselves up to being victimized.

February 26, 2007

Interesting Videos

This weekend I stumbled across the MSNBC show "Lockup" and found a lot of it very interesting. Although they obviously show the most 'entertaining' prisons, they cover a wide variety of topics from gangs to inmates who spend their time making guitars. If you go to their website and type lockup in their search menu, they have a handful of clips from the show, each some 5 minutes long. Josh has picked some really great documentaries and films that we will be seeing during the rest of the semester, but for those of you interested in seeing more about life on the inside, this would be a good place to look. You could probably use them to start a discussion and get credit for your meaningful and thoughtful blog entries. See you Thursday! Mary
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/?search=MSNBC&q=lockup&id=11881780&FORM=AE&os=0&gs=1&p=1

February 18, 2007

In the News...

Hey, I was just wondering if anyone heard about the Amber alert released earlier this week? A fourteen year-old girl was abducted by her father, who was a convicted sexual predator. Anyways, I found this interesting and am trying to tie it to our class activites. Does anyone think that this one case could (from a Durkheimian view) create enough pressure and emotion that a new law could be passed that would further restrict parental visitation when the parent is convicted of a sex crime?