New Jersey Sex Offenders Banned From Internet

December 29, 2007 § 11 Comments

In this age, an age where technological advances have given rise to the digital device as an “indispensable” part of our daily lives, we find that coupled with these works of wonder are new ways to abuse other human beings. One such form of abuse is criminal sex offense, where the internet is used as a means to lure and exploit children for sex in a less threatening way. By giving attractive stories about themselves these internet offenders coerce children into giving them detailed information about themselves and their family members.

A 2002 U.S. study found that in a nationally represented survey of over 1500 children ages 10 – 17, who regularly use the internet, 19% them reported being approached for sex through the internet at least once a year. And 1 in 7 of these children reported internet offenders following up the initial contact by telephone or mail. The study discovered that 24% of all solicitations for sex and 34% of all aggressive solicitations were made by adults aged 18 and older. The study also found that 25% of all aggressive solicitations were made by women. The chat-room phenomena was the highest ranking medium for sex offender’s solicitations comprising for two-thirds of all solicitations and 24% occured by Instant Messaging services such as AOL Online, Yahoo Messenger and other Instant Messaging services.

Recently in New Jersey, acting Govenor Richard Codey signed a bill (S1979) which will provide the state with near absolute authority to monitor or restrict internet access to convicted sex offenders.

“The law prohibits anyone convicted of using a computer to commit a sex offense from using computers or accessing the Internet for part or all of their parole. It also allows the State Parole Board to impose Internet restrictions on sex offenders who did not use a computer to facilitate their crimes.”

In addition Information Week reports,

“The law requires the parolees to allow unannounced examinations of their computer equipment and the installation of monitoring hardware or software. It also would require convicted sex offenders to tell authorities if they have access to a computer or other devices that can access the Internet and obtain written approval to use computers or the Internet.”

Acting Govenor Codey said in an official statement that the law will give New Jersey, ‘some of the toughest tools in the nation to crack down on the growing threat of Internet predators.’

Generally, sex offenders convicted of serious sex crimes are usually sentenced to serve prison time. In 1992 National Corrections Reporting Program, the average prison sentence in state courts were 12.8 years for rape (5 years average times served) and 9.5 years for other kinds of sexual assault (2.5 years average time served). This data however is 15 years old and is based on sentences imposed over 20 years ago. I have been told that sentences for sex crimes have generally gotten longer since this data was first collected.

At any rate recidivism is less likely than drug offenders, perhaps due to the public trial, shame and humiliation of getting caught in an illicit act of sexual misconduct. But the fact remains that though the rate of recidivism is lower than that of other offenders, 18.5% is still enough to raise concerns on the reintroductions of sex offenders, Internet or otherwise, into the national community.

In Islam, sex crimes and sex offenders are placed in the upper echelon of punishment for crimes against fellow human beings. This act is taken very seriously, particularly if there is physical harm as a result of the act. Suad Joseph and Afsaneh Najmabadi mention this in their Encyclopedia of Women & Islamic Cultures,

“In Islamic law, rape is placed under the category of hadd (hudud, pl.) crimes, which are offenses with specific punishments ordained by God.”

They continue,

“Rape is defined as a zina crime in juridical writings. Unlike Western legal traditions, Islamic Law does not consider rape a separate legal category, but places it together with other sex acts outside of the marriage contract, such as fornication, adultery, incest, homosexuality, prostitution, procurement of prostitution, and bestiality…

Historically sources clearly do recognize rape as a social reality, and it is usually described in Islamic sources as forced zina and, as such, a crime subject to prosecution.”

Rape is not discussed in the Qur’an, but there are hadith which mention rape specifically. For example, a hadith transmitted by Safiyya bint ‘Ubayd reported,

“A state-owned slave had sexual intercourse with a girl from among the war booty (khumus). He had coerced her until he raped her. Therefore, ‘Umar flogged him according to the hadd and banished him, but he did not flog the girl because she was forced” (al-Bukhari 1985, ix, 67).”

In this early case of documented and historically significant rape we see that there is an obvious distinction between willing and coerced zina. Which also creates a logical difference between the rapist and the victim. We also see that the punishment for rape was flogging, a punishment dealt with lashes, such as the penalty for soldiers who were convicted by martial courts during the American Revolutionary War (1775), and banishment.

But as Islamic Law developed, rape was not only considered a sex crime but also bodily harm and was subject to the payment of money called dirya, a penalty of payment for committing bodily harm or bloodshed, not unlike the blood-wites of Anglo-Saxon law before the Norman conquest (1066), except that payment was to the victim or the victims family and not the king. Islamic legal sources show that juridical writings of this earlier period often show evidence that a monetary payment for reparations in rape cases was made.

Rape in the context of zina is the highest offense of zina as explained by Joseph and Najmabadi,

“Coercion to commit zina, whether forced prostitution or rape, is viewed as the worst form of zina in Islamic law. Abu Hanifa argued that if anyone forced another to commit zina he was subject to punishment. This is why several sources discuss the punishment of procurers and not the punishment of prostitutes, since prostitutes were viewed as being subject to coercion.”

But for a clearer picture on the overall progression of rape within Islamic law it should be instructive to consult the Ottomans and their legal edicts for sex offense and the subsequent rulings of punishment for convicted sex offenders,

“As a consequence there are several sixteenth century sources for Ottoman law that include the kanun-names (Ottoman imperial codes) and thousands of fatwas issued by Ebu’s-su’ud (Abu al-Sa’ud Muhammad bin Muhammad, 1492 – 1574), Ottoman jurist and Shaykh al-Islam, who was the supreme religious counselor under Sultan Suleyman (r. 1520-66). One fatwa written by Ebu’s-su’ud demands that a man who raped a boy was to be executed if force were proven by bodily damage, namely a ruptured anus. According to the kanun-names if a man abducted a boy, he was to be punished by castration or payment of 24 gold pieces. The kanun-names contain several codes on the abduction of girls, boys and women. Abduction was a crime viewed as rape since it was often performed for that purpose. Throughout the sixteenth century raids by tribesmen and disgruntled irregular troops in Anatolia often included the abduction of girls and boys. The kanun-names reflect an attempt to curb this activity by prescribing sever punishments for abduction. The punishment of castration was also applied in cases of the abduction of women from private homes. The kanun-names advocate severe flogging and a fine of one akce per stroke in cases of molestation or “kissing” of women, both terms connoting rape. the kanun-names discuss rape euphemistically, for example: “If a person enters a woman’s house or approaches her on her way and cuts off her hair or takes away her garment or kerchief, [thus] offering [her] a gross indignity, the cadi shall, after [the offense] has been proved, chastise [him]; shall have [him] imprisoned” (Heyd 1973, 100).”

In conclusion, from this article we find that in early Islamic history forced sex was considered rape. And that rape is a punishable offense. We see that Islamic law considers rape zina, a general sex crime, it distinguishes the rapist from the victim applying punishment to the rapist only. Interestingly, later in the development of Islamic law during early Ottoman period it was reasonably concluded at a time of increased abduction and sexual offenses, often performed together, that more severe punishment should be applied to discourage this kind behavior and curb the further increase of rape within the Ottoman Empire. I am raising this point because perhaps not unlike the events in Anatolia, the increase in internet offenses are enough reason to apply more severe punishment for this kind of crime.

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§ 11 Responses to New Jersey Sex Offenders Banned From Internet

  • Aaminah says:

    Asalaamu alaikum.

    Great article.

    But in regards to this “At any rate recidivism is less likely than drug offenders, perhaps due to the public trial, shame and humiliation of getting caught in an illicit act of sexual misconduct.” I would really like to know where you have gotten such an idea. It is well known and documented that there is nearly a 100% recidivism rate for sexual offense. It is almost always been an incurable matter that is perpetuated, perhaps in different forms and with better secrecy, but definitely does continue to occur. It has also been well documented in the U.S. that castration (which many offenders voluntarily begged for because they wanted to change) did not affect the recidivism of those individuals who still had the psychological aspect and were not able to control themselves and simply found other means of injuring their victims.

  • Saifuddin says:

    BismillaharRahmanirRahim

    as-salaamu ‘alaikum. Aaminah, 100%!? If you could post a link I would love to read more about this.

    -Saifuddin

  • Sufyan Yunus says:

    Bismillah,

    Assalamu alaikum Sidi Saifuddin,

    Sister Aaminah is correct when she states that the recidivism rate is high. I am not sure what the actual statistic is, but the the rate at which they’ll commit the offense again is fairly high. Being a Psychology major, my notes for my Abnormal Psychology class that I took last year says that the recidivism rate is fairly high.

    In my textbook, entitled “Abnormal Psychology” written by Richard P. Halgin and Susan Krauss Whitbourne (2007), it states the following: “There is no best approach to treating people with pedophilia. The fact that people with this disorder are likely to repeat their behavior, even after long-term intensive treatment, has led clinicians and researchers to conclude that a multifaceted approach is needed (Barbaree & Seto, 1997).”

    But I am not sure if there is a 100% recidivism rate, it seems too high. I have seen numbers from 5% to 50%, and 10 to 66%. Some say it is low as 18-19% and high as 37.5%. In the DSM IV, it states that the recidivism rate for those offenders who are attracted to males is twice as those who are attracted to females.

    InshaAllah, it would be interesting to see the stats that Sister Aaminah is referring to.

    Wallahu alam.

    Ma’salama

    Sufyan Yunus.

  • Saifuddin says:

    BismillaharRahmanirRahim

    as-salaamu ‘alaikum. Sufyan Yunus you wrote,

    “The fact that people with this disorder are likely to repeat their behavior, even after long-term intensive treatment, has led clinicians and researchers to conclude that a multifaceted approach is needed (Barbaree & Seto, 1997).”

    Which gives even more reason to look into more severe penalties for these kind of sex crimes or sex crimes in general.

  • shaalom2salaam says:

    As Salaamu Alaikum:

    Sexual offense is a legal term (thus recidivism) and the repeated behaviors are associated with the term “relapse”. Think how many relapses a person can have before he actually gets caught and thus becomes a recidivist!

    Sexual offending does have a high recidivism rate, as does substance use. The dynamics that drives individuals to both behaviors are similar. If a person has the courage to address their situation, eliminate defense mechanisms and thinking errors, develop a solid relapse prevention plan, and obtain solid support systems, they have a good chance to recover “one day at a time”. Unfortunately, most individuals do not get it the first time around. Relapse/recidivism is common.

    Some maintain that sexual offenders can NEVER change or be cured. That position is not true. But the results are discouraging.

    I am a certified addictions counselor, and I work in a state prison. I have seen numerous individuals with this problem. Believe me, they have deep issues.

  • shaalom2salaam says:

    PS – if anyone knows how I can get my WordPress blog back, please email me at Jihadlevine@yahoo.com. WordPress tells me I have deleted it, but don’t remember doing so. Thanks so much.

    Sister Safiyyah
    also at http://www.shaalom2salaam.blogspot.com

  • Sufyan Yunus says:

    Bismillah,

    Wa alaikum assalam Sidi Saifuddin,

    If you look at it in terms of law, then yes, severe penalties should be in place in order to serve as deterrents for repeating their deviant behavior. But, the goal of clinical psychology is to rehabilitate the person, therefore, there has to be therapeutic ways that can be promoted in order for the sex offender to live a normal life, which punishment may not help in reducing the behavior. As the Behaviorists, especially B.F. Skinner, say that punishment only suppresses the behavior rather than changing the behavior. An approach of psychotherapy may cause the change in behavior leading to that normal life.

    As the quote I wrote last time, we see that there is no ONE best approach (i.e. castration, removal of testicles, drugs, etc.) to treating pedophilia, but rather a multicomponent treatment needs to be established. And that is the place for Clinical Psychology Research to determine what is the best treatment(s) to rehabilitate that person by using many approaches into one single treatment. This is what the same textbook further mentioned:

    “Berlin (1998) describes an approach that has been successful in reducing repeated offenses to less than 8 percent of those participating. In this program, Berlin and his colleagues incorporate group therapy, which is combined in some cases with medications aimed at lowering sex drive. In the group therapy, efforts are made to confront denial and rationalization [the elimination of defense mechanisms that Sister Safiyyah mentioned], while providing a supportive context that is conducive to a frank discussion of desires and conflicts. Yet another component of this approach is the development of family-and community-based suport systems to help the pedophile stick to his determination to remain healthy (Berlin, 1998).”

    With Berlin’s approach, there was less than 8 percent relapse of recommitting these sexually deviant behaviors. So some psychotherapy can work, as there is a significant change. So there is potential to rehabilitate these offenders. And it looks as if multifaceted approaches may work, where instilling severe penalties may not.

    Wallahu alam.

    Ma’salama

    Sufyan Yunus

  • Saifuddin says:

    BismillaharRahmanirRahim

    “So there is potential to rehabilitate these offenders. And it looks as if multifaceted approaches may work, where instilling severe penalties may not.”

    Perhaps, but I like Hazreti Umar’s (ra), method best. There is a reason he is called “Al-Farooq”, the one who distinguishes right from wrong. I am no Human Behavior Specialist, but one thing I do know is no rehabilitation can occur without the permission of Allah Almighty, therefore treatments offered with no respect to this may be why rehabilitation sees such poor results.

    -Saifuddin

  • Sufyan Yunus says:

    Bismillah,

    Assalamu alaikum Sidi,

    What you said is correct, and I agree with you. Nothing is above the Shari’ah. I was reading in “Kitab al-Athar” and in the Hadd Punishment section, the same hadith of Umar ibn al-Khattab (radi Allahu ‘anhu) was mentioned and agreed upon both Imam Abu Hanifa and Imam Muhammad ibn al-Hasan (radi Allahu ‘anhum). And that was their verdict on dealing with rape. If it is Allah’s law, it stands. And everything happens by His Will, thus no rehabilitation will occur, unless He Wills for it.

    But I think that when rehabilitation begins through psychotherapy, the offender is punished first and then undergoes psychotherapy in attempts to rehabilitate the person. Else, it would be unfair to the victim, their family, and the community if the person is left unpunished. I just see this banning the sex offenders from the internet as inviable, unlike flogging which very severe and may serve as a great deterrent to repeat the crime. The person can still develop urges and fantasize to the point that it’ll motivate them to commit the crime. With the Will and Permission of Allah, rehabilitation may help these people change their behavior. But only time and research can tell if it really does work. And Allah Ta’ala, of course, knows best.

    Take care,

    Ma’salama

  • […] Rape & Sexual Violence Pt 1 1 01 2008 In response to this post, my comments will be too long and I don’t fancy taking over Saifuddin’s blog so I […]

  • James says:

    “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

    Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

    Flogging is considered cruel and unusual punishment. It was used for military discipline but was fazed out and is no longer used. The big, nasty exception to this was in the slave states; where it was all flogging all the time. Flogging is no longer part of the Western norm and is considered a crime by most European nations. Besides a long prison term is punishment enough. If anything prisons fail because there is too much emphasis on punishment and not enough on reform.

    Daily life in our prisons is shear hell, we treat beef cattle better at the slaughter house than we treat our prisoners. The huge failure in the prison system is getting prisoners re-integrated into society. Yes these are “bad” people but they are also severely damaged people. Life has been brutal for them and they have returned the favor.

    Remember that Allah is not only just but merciful. Many times justice is about forgiveness, it is about healing. The wisest amongst us have always tempered justice with mercy; they have known that the criminal is a person too and no less a child of God. Any base fool can beat someone senseless; it takes a true holy man to offer love and forgiveness.

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