NOTE: I’d still like to see some form of anti-vigilante bill presented to a legislature. In the years since I made this proposal, the vigilante groups listed below went defunct, but were replaced by other vigilantes and vigilante groups.
THE STOP VIGILANTE VIOLENCE AND WEBSITES ACT OF 2010
Written by Derek “The Fallen One” Logue
February 9, 2009, amended November 2009
This Act is a response to the recent increases of vigilantism both online and in the real world. Over 190 murders have been committed against those accused or convicted of sex crimes, and 40% of registrants and their loved ones have experienced acts of vigilantism directed against them. It is quite clear this bill is becoming needed. Show your support by sending me a letter of support for this law. Any further comments or questions can be sent via e-mail, also on my comments page. See below for more details.
Stop Vigilante Violence and Websites Act of 2010
An act to prevent abuse and violence against those listed on sex offender registries, to promote accountability and liability of those entities that misuse registry info, and to promote the proper usage of current sex offender registries.
Sec. 101 – TITLE
This bill may be referred to as the Stop Vigilante Violence and Websites Bill of 2009
Sec. 102: KEY FINDINGS
Megan’s Law, established in 1996, established the first public sex offender registries, and has become an established part of society. However, studies and reports are showing the negative consequences of public registries are very high. Of particular concern is the high level of vigilante violence against not just those individuals listed on public sex offender registries, but against family members or other individuals living in the same household.
A number of murders, suicides, and crimes committed against those on sex offender registries or family members of registrants have used registry information and/ or news media reports of allegations:
- In April 2006, Stephen Marshall of Nova Scotia slays two former offenders, William Elliot and Joseph L. Grey, after collecting personal info on Maine’s registry .
- In September 2005, Michael Anthony Mullen slays two former offenders in Washington, Hank Eisses and Victor Velasquez, after collecting personal info on Washington’s registry .
- In Sept. 2007, two men in Tennessee, Gary Sellers and Robert Bell, set fire to the house of a neighbor suspected of possessing child porn; the fire killed the man’s wife, Melissa Chandler, instead .
- In Apr. 2005, Florida resident Chuckie Claxton, a mentally disabled former offender, commits suicide after signs declaring him a “child rapist” were posted in his neighborhood .
- On January 2008, after a half a year of online cyber stalking, harassment, and threats due to speaking out against sex offender legislation, Jan Kruska, a mother of four, is forced to buy a gun, contact the FBI, and sue her harassers. Later, on a national television show, her stalker states she “deserves” to be harassed by her .
- On December 2006, after two years of harassment by an online vigilante group, which included a contact with his employer and claims victim is a “wannabe pedophile,” New Mexico resident Taylor Marcell, wins a default judgment against the vigilante group Perverted-Justice .
- In June 2008, Tammy Lee Gibson of Puyallup, Washington, a woman with a lengthy criminal record including assaults and drug charges, assaulted a registrant with a baseball bat and was arrested. She was declared a hero , and prosecutors pleaded down to an eight month maximum sentence as they felt a jury would not convict her . She was given a mere 90 days in jail .
As of Sept. 2007, eAdvocate lists 112 murdered individuals known to have been murdered due to sex crime accusations or convictions . In addition to murder, a significant number of registrants, as well as loved ones of the registrant, have experienced different forms of vigilantism. “Nearly half of the offenders reported experiencing threats, property damage, or physical assault as a result of public disclosure .” In addition, almost half of people living with the registrant reported being threatened or harassed by neighbors, 27% had their property damaged, and 7% said they were physically assaulted by someone as a result of notification .
Vigilantism is noted as a key barrier to reform. Registrants constantly worry about harassment, which adds to the obstacles in obtaining “stable residence, productive work activity, and effective treatment, which are essential prerequisites for managing the behavior of this group of offenders in the community.” It is no surprise that registries have been known to “exact further vengeance” on registrants who have finished their sentences . Furthermore, the registries have an effect of compelling the reader to react as less than “responsible citizens .” “Although these laws were passed as a means to decrease recidivism and promote public safety, the resulting stigmatization of sex offenders is likely to result in disruption of their relationships, loss of or difficulties finding jobs, difficulties finding housing, and decreased psychological well-being, all factors that could increase their risk of recidivism .”
THEREFORE, we must take action to ensure the rehabilitation process proven to decrease recidivism and protect American citizens from criminal acts of violence and harassment for the greater good of the public.
Sec. 103: DECLARATION OF INTENT
In order to combat vigilante violence, harassment, and cyber-crimes directed at registrants and innocent family members or associates of registrants, to promote the proper usage of registry information, and provide avenues of relief for victims of all forms of vigilantism.
Sec. 104: PROVISIONS AND PENALTIES (this part subjct to change)
- Enhances penalties for crimes against registrants OR those accused. but not convicted, and similar to 28 USC 994, the US Hate Crimes Sentencing Enhancement Act (actual violence, intimidation, threats, or harassment)
- Creates or enhances penalties for abuse of registry information, improper dissemination of personal information (pictures, videos, contact info, etc.)
- Increased penalties for cyber crimes when committed as a collective organization, as well as when done anonymously
- Compels “anti-paedo” organizations to be entered in a database, including real names and addresses of all members. In addition, all organizations must maintain a physical address (no “Mailboxes, Etc.”)
- Attaches or enhances “civil cause of action” against individuals and/or organizations that engage in criminal activities against sex offenders (What’s a fair cap on civil liability?)– $250,000 (?)
- Compels states to place bold disclaimers clearly stating the penalties for misusing registry info and/or crimes committed against former offenders on every page of the registry
- Prohibits anyone from disseminating registry information without consent and training/ certification from members of law enforcement (honestly, I say prohibit EVERYONE but LE from ever passing out info period)
- Prohibits individuals from using registry info contact employers, neighbors, or other places of interest used by former offenders
- Extend the increased penalties to acts committed against those merely ACCUSED of sex crimes
SEC. 105: Resources cited in Sec. 102, Key Findings
- Gitika Ahuja, “Sex Offender Registries: Putting Lives at Risk?” ABC News, April 18, 2006, http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=1855771&page=1. Retrieved Feb. 8, 2009
- “2 On Sex Registry Murdered in Maine.” NewsNet5.com, April 17, 2006, http://www.newsnet5.com/news/8776457/detail.html, retrieved Feb. 8, 2009
- Jake Jost, Robin Murdoch, and Brian Holt, “UPDATE: Reaction to ‘vigilante justice’ arrests in suspicious fire death.” WBIR News, Sept. 7, 2007, http://www.wbir.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=48857&provider=gnews, Retrieved Feb. 8, 2009.
- “Sex offender’s suicide questions public notification.” USA Today, May 6, 2005. http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2005-05-06-molester-suicide_x.htm, Retrieved Feb. 8, 2009
- See Kruska v. Perverted Justice Foundation, Inc. et al.; John Stossel, “The Age of Consent.” ABC News 20/20 [television], March 14, 2008.
- Marcell v. Perverted Justice, Case No. CV-06-0693 [Dist. Ct. NM, Aug. 2006]
- Casey McNerthy, “Woman who beat sex offender with baseball bat pleads guilty.” SeattlePI, Jan. 6, 2009, http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/seattle911/archives/158711.asp, Retrieved Feb. 8, 2009.
- Sean Robinson, “Guilty plea avoids trial for mother who beat sex offender.” The News-Tribune, January 6, 2009.
http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/crime/story/585813.html, Retrieved Feb. 8, 2009
- Matt Markovich, “I’d do it again, if not better.” KOMO News, Feb. 27, 2009, http://www.komonews.com/news/local/40457662.html#idc-container, Retrieved Feb. 28, 2009
- eAdvocate, “Murdered in the United States- 2008: Registered Sex Offenders & Others.” Sex Offender Issues,
News, Recidivism and Studies by a Voice of Reason,. http://sexoffenderresearch.blogspot.com/2009/02/murdered-in-united-states-2008.html, Retrieved Feb.28, 2009
- Brannon, Levenson, Fortney, and Baker, “Attitudes About Community Notification.” Sex Abuse, Oct. 9, 2007
- Levenson and Tewksbury (2009), “Collateral Damage: Family Members of Registered Sex Offenders.” American Journal of Criminal Justice.
- Zevitz and Farkas, “Sex Offender Community Notification: Managing High Risk Criminals or Extracting Vengeance?” Behavioral Sciences and The Law, 2000
- Jessica Evans, “Vigilance and Vigilantes: Thinking psychoanalytically about anti-paedophile action.” Theoretical Criminology, May 2005
- Hollida Wakefield, “The Vilification of Sex Offenders” Institute for Psychological Therapies, 2007, http://ccoso.org/Vilification.pdf, Retrieved Feb. 28, 2009
SAMPLE LETTER OF SUPPORT
Once Fallen would like your support in presenting this anti-vigilante bill to the US legislature. There are two ways
you can do this:
#1: You can send a copy of this bill and a letter of support of this bill to your US Congressman or Senator.
#2: Sign the online petition. HOWEVER, direct letters and calls to your state Congressmen and Representatives are just as important, perhaps more, than the online petition
Dear US Legislators,
I am writing this letter to express concerns about vigilante violence and support “THE STOP VIGILANTE VIOLENCE AND WEBSITES ACT OF 2010, which can be found at https://oncefallen.com/antivigilantebill.html.
In 2008, Washington state resident Tammy Lee Gibson attacked a man on the sex offender registry without provocation with a baseball bat and was declared a “hero” and was given a mere 90 days in jail, sparking both public support of this vigilante and a public call for vigilante violence against those on the sex offender registry. This pales in comparison to the 190 individuals known to have been killed in this country targeted because they were convicted, accused, or supported someone accused or convicted of sex crimes. In addition, numerous studies indicate 40% of sex offenders experienced some form of assault, harassment, or property damage, while an equal number of loved ones have experienced the same problem.
In the interest of public safety, I implore you to support “The Stop Vigilante Violence and Website Acts of 2009.” While “sex offenders” may be a favorite target of laws and public disdain, this hatred for the sex offender has disastrous consequences for all of society, not just the registrant. Misuse of the sex offender registry is a common problem, and while most states have laws on the books making abuse of registry information a criminal offense, these states rarely bother to enforce these laws or prosecute those who attack, harass, or intimidate individuals on the public registries. Furthermore, the Internet has become a place to attack registrants, as information is easily accessible and identities of vigilantes can be hidden. This hatred extends to loved ones of registrants, including even the children of the registrants. In addition to causing actual harm, the threat of vigilantism hinders efforts at vigilantism and rehabilitation efforts of those required to register, thus offering incentives to disregard registration
THEREFORE, I implore you to support this anti-vigilantism, not just for the protection of those accused or convicted of sex crimes, but for the greater public. This all important bill will deter the abuse and misuse of sex offender registry info and restore order and integrity to the justice system as a whole, as the mission to protect and serve should apply to all free citizens, not just the popular groups. Furthermore, you will provide avenues of relief to those victimized by dangerous individuals who feel empowered to break the law simply because the target is accused or convicted of a sex crime. Thank you for your time.