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.”
“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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