The Battle Against Hate Speech and The Right to be an Asshole


An associate professor at Georgetown University recently penned a column in the Washington Post describing her confrontation with alt-right neo-Nazi yambag Richard Spencer. Christine Fair proudly admits to have accosted Spencer while he was working out at a local gym, causing him to lose his gym membership. “Are you Richard Spencer?” she asked him, describing […]

via The Right to be an Asshole — The Liberty Zone

I read this post and it got me on a weird tangent, mostly because it’s Friday before a holiday weekend and I’m bored AF at work.

I started doing a little research and read an outstanding Newsweek article about college campuses and their war on free speech — originally intended as a way to eliminate hate speech, went from reasonable accommodation, to downright Orwellian.

I remember hearing about this rush to go out and purchase and read 1984 because of Trump becoming the POTUS and I thought it was a bit off. Trump was marketed as the “free speech” guy, whatever that means. If anything merited Orwell comparisons, it was the silencing of free speech on college campuses, and if you did speak freely you’d be castigated by the Thought Police. People are monitored through social media to see if they are adhering to all the PC bullshit, and not committing Thought Crime (supposed hate speech, microaggressions, racism, homophobia, etc….) And the specific Thought Crime may not even be real or actual hatefulness.


During his 18 years as president of Lebanon Valley College during the middle of the past century, Clyde Lynch led the tiny Pennsylvania liberal arts institution through the tribulations of the Great Depression and World War II, then raised $550,000 to build a new gymnasium before he died in 1950. In gratitude, college trustees named that new building after him.

Neither Lynch nor those trustees could have predicted there would come a day when students would demand that his name be stripped from the Lynch Memorial Hall because the word lynch has “racial overtones.” But that day did come.

When playwright Eve Ensler wrote The Vagina Monologues, which premiered in 1996 and has been performed thousands of times by actors, celebrities and college students, she probably did not foresee a day when a performance of her feminist agitprop would be canceled because it was offensive to “women without vaginas.” And yet that day did come—at Mount Holyoke, one of the nation’s premier women’s colleges.

Graduates of the Class of 2016 are leaving behind campuses that have become petri dishes of extreme political correctness and heading out into a world without trigger warnings, safe spaces and free speech zones, with no rules forbidding offensive verbal conduct or microaggressions, and where the names of cruel, rapacious capitalists are embossed in brass and granite on buildings across the land. Baby seals during the Canadian hunting season may have a better chance of survival.

Their degrees look the same as ever, but in recent years the programs of study behind them have been altered to reflect the new sensitivities. Books now come with trigger warnings—a concept that originated on the internet to warn people with post-traumatic stress disorder (veterans, child abuse survivors) of content that might “trigger” a past trauma. Columbia’s English majors were opting out of reading Ovid (trigger: sexual assault), and some of their counterparts at Rutgers declined an assignment to study Virginia Woolf (trigger: suicidal ideation). Political science graduates from Modesto Junior College might have shied away from touching a copy of the U.S. Constitution in public, since a security guard stopped one of them from handing it out because he was not inside a 25-square-foot piece of concrete 30 yards away from the nearest walkway designated as the “free speech zone”—a space that needed to be booked 30 days in advance. Graduates of California public universities found it hard to discuss affirmative action policies, as administrators recently added such talk to a list of “microaggressions”—subtle but offensive comments or actions directed at a minority or other nondominant group that unintentionally reinforce a stereotype.

More than half of America’s colleges and universities now have restrictive speech codes. And, according to a censorship watchdog group, 217 American colleges and universities—including some of the most prestigious—have speech codes that “unambiguously impinge upon free speech.”

Judges have interpreted the First Amendment broadly, giving Americans some of the most expansive rights of speech in the world. But over the past two decades, and especially the past few years, American college administrators and many students have sought to confine speech to special zones and agitated for restrictions on language in classrooms as well. To protect undergrads from the discomfort of having to hear disagreeable ideas and opinions, administrators and students—and the U.S. Department of Education—have been reframing speech as “verbal conduct” that potentially violates the civil rights of minorities and women

American college campuses are starting to resemble George Orwell’s Oceania with its Thought Police, or East Germany under the Stasi. College newspapers have been muzzled and trashed, and students are disciplined or suspended for “hate speech,” while exponentially more are being shamed and silenced on social media by their peers. Professors quake at the possibility of accidentally offending any student and are rethinking syllabi and restricting class discussions to only the most anodyne topics. A Brandeis professor endured a secret administrative investigation for racial harassment after using the word wetback in class while explaining its use as a pejorative.

As college campuses have become bastions of rigorously enforced political correctness, the limits on speech have come crashing down in the real world, with the presumptive Republican nominee for president dishing out macroaggressions on a daily basis. Donald Trump’s comments about the alleged criminality of Hispanics and Muslims, and about how fat or ugly his female enemies are, need no restating here, but many of his words would almost certainly be prohibited speech on most college campuses.

Business leaders, authors, politicians and even comedians are now routinely barred from American campuses. Springtime—the commencement-speech time of year—is now dubbed “disinvitation season.” Students and faculty debate the moral fitness of announced commencement speakers on social media and engage in bitter fights over whether even mildly controversial speakers deserve to be behind a podium. Some disinvite themselves. Christine LaGarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund and one of the most powerful women on the planet, canceled a speech at Smith, one of America’s pre-eminent women’s colleges, after a Facebook protest against her by some students and faculty for her connection to “global capitalists.” Those who turn up can find themselves facing a heckler’s veto, as mild-mannered University of California, Berkeley, Chancellor Robert Birgeneau discovered in 2014 when he had the temerity to show up at tiny Haverford College without first apologizing for how his campus cops had treated Occupy Wall Streeters.

As students are labeling more and more words as hate speech, demanding more trigger warnings and shouting down both commencement speakers and comedians, the censorship flashpoints can be sorted into three topics: sex, race and Donald Trump.

The people backing Trump’s run for the White House frequently gush that he “speaks for me” or “says what I can’t.” At a rally in April in Bethpage on New York’s Long Island, his supporters parked a giant mobile highway sign near the venue that advertised, in blinking lights, “Free speech zone,” and Trump has made supposedly unfettered speech a major part of his campaign’s shtick. “I wrote something today that I think is very, very salient, very important and probably not politically correct, but I don’t care,” he said at a rally in South Carolina after announcing he would temporarily ban Muslims from entering the U.S.

His opponents call such talk racist dog-whistling, and at most American campuses, racist speech of any kind is not just repugnant but forbidden. And sometimes even Trump is forbidden. At DePaul University in Chicago, Students for Trump snuck out to the student center around midnight on April 4 and chalked the sidewalk, scrawling their candidate’s name and phrases like “Blue lives matter” and “Don’t feel the Bern.” They then posted photos of their handiwork on Facebook. By morning light, other students had complained to the administration, and the university had dispatched custodians to wash away the offending chalk.

Nicole Been, a national political/recruitment director with Students for Trump at DePaul, says their slogans were selectively washed off; for example, janitors erased “Don’t” and left “feel the Bern.” After students began a social media campaign to file a hate crimes complaint against the Trump supporters, Been and other Students for Trump went to the administration, demanding their right to free speech. “We said we are sick of being called ‘racist’ and ‘bigot,’ and this is on you,” Been recalls. “And they said, ‘Well, [your slogans] can be triggering.’”

After ordering his janitors to hose away the pro-Trump chalkings, DePaul President Dennis Holtschneider sent an all-school email with an explanation: “The phrase ‘All Lives Matter,’ for example, sounds obvious, even banal. In fact, we are all aware it is frequently used to reject out-of-hand the core message of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement…. It’s simply insensitive to repeat something that we know in advance will bring pain and frustration to others. Our policies are not devised to prevent its use. Nor can we compel students to avoid its use. Can DePaul ask our students for kindness and sensitivity? Yes.”

Read the rest HERE.

I remember when I worked for my student paper, one student posted something on social media the higher ups didn’t like and expelled him. Watch dog free speech groups poured on campus and submitted full page ads advocating for free speech. The president of the university resigned over the controversy. 

That was 2008-2010.

Have things really changed in the last eight to ten years?



The Dissection of the Adam Walsh Act


So, I was on /r/news and I came upon a truly disturbing news story:

A 14-year-old junior high student is facing the possibility of life as a registered sex offender after being arrested for having sex with his 12-year-old girlfriend, according to his attorney.

The teen, who was in seventh grade, is charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child. His girlfriend was a sixth-grader at the time.

“He had consensual sex with his little girlfriend and he loved her. They were boyfriend-girlfriend,” the teen’s mother told the Chronicle. “And because he turned 14, they want to make him a sex offender, put him on the registry with pedophiles and child molesters—really sick and dangerous people.”

But in Texas that does not apply if one of the parties is under 14.

“The idea that a 14-year-old who has sex with a person just a little bit younger then him or her would be treated as the worst of the worst in our society and placed on the sex offender registry is really sick,” said the teen’s attorney, Joseph Gutheinz. He spoke about the case on the condition that his client not be identified.

The Harris County District Attorney’s Office did not return calls for comment.

The case illustrates the gray area of criminal responsibility for teens having sex before they are legally able to consent at the age of 17.

Gutheinz said the injustice is that the same 14-year-old who is now a defendant, would not have been charged if the teens were the same age. And he would be considered the victim if the other person was 18 or older, he said.

“If he has sex with someone who is younger by just days but is still 13 years old, he could be charged with one of the most serious offenses we have,” he said. “It just blows my mind.”

He said the discrepancy thwarts the intent of the law.

“It defeats the whole purpose of the Romeo and Juliet defense where you have two people relatively close in age and maturity,” he said. “You would think the law would be more sympathetic as you go younger, because both parties are immature.”

The teen’s mother said her family “is going through hell.”

“Because he was 14 by two months, they want to ruin his life,” she said. “What kind of life is he going to have if he’s a sex offender?”

Experts said charges being filed for a consensual sexual relationship between minors is not unusual in Harris County, even for teens and tweens.

“I had that exact fact pattern that I fought for a year,” said Jackie Stewart Gravois, an attorney with the Harris County Public Defender’s Office. “They ended up dismissing it because, ultimately, everyone agreed it was a consensual act.”

In her case, the two students were also in junior high and he was 14 and she was 12. After prosecutors were assured that there was no violence or threat of force, it was dismissed.

She said similar cases seem to be on the rise over the past few years.

Gravois was not familiar with the teen’s legal battle and spoke generally about those types of cases.

“Usually, if the prosecutors can prove that it was consensual and it was not forced in any way, they typically don’t file these cases or they end up dismissing them,” she said. “That’s going to be up to the discretion of the prosecutor.”

She noted that Harris County’s juvenile judges have wide discretion over whether a teen will have to register as a sex offender.

“Very rarely do the juvenile judges in Harris County force anyone to register,” she said. “They usually delay it and send them to sex offender treatment and then make a decision.”

Jay Jenkins, an attorney for the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, which is pushing to raise the age of criminal responsibility in Texas, has studied prosecution disparities because of age.

He said he is aware of several criminal cases filed against Houston teens accused of having sex with tweens.

“That’s the arbitrary nature of our sexual offense laws,” he said. “There’s very little rationality to those laws.”

So, essentially, they are going to ruin this young man’s life for having sex. Lets protect the children from sex! …. by ruining their lives.

Obviously, this is a failure to parent. It was probably the 12 year old’s parents who pressed the charges — again, knee jerk irrationality. They should have been more vigilant in raising their child to have more common sense when it comes to sexual relations. Same with the boy. His mother should have intervened and stated that this is not acceptable behavior.

But Texas!

Lets throw kids in jail for playing doctor! Seven years old! That’s a pervert in the making! Lets protect him from sex! Throw him in jail too!

Also, note — it’s only the boy being charged. Why not charge them both? They were both underage. They were both having “consensual” sex (in quotations because they were below the age of consent).

When/if I ever reproduce, and if I have a son, I would be more worried about this sort of thing — about false rape accusations, about having sex while a teenager. My hypothetical son will probably be so terrified of sex that he’s going to card potential partners and get a written contract before any intercourse happens.

I’ve always said the Adam Walsh act (aka sex offender registry) was a bunch of bullshit. It was created out of knee-jerk emotionalism. It does more of a disservice to society by rendering a harmless (aka not likely to recidivate/not a dyed in the wool sexual predator) portion of the population unemployable and nonfunctional.

Hey! I wrote about this in grad school! (Note, kind of a long read with a lot of legalese. But I did a pretty admirable dissection and policy evaluation of this piece of legislature).

TL;DR version: The sex offender act should be reevaluated where true sexual predators will remain incarcerated and under go therapy until deemed not a threat to society, while lower level offenders will be graded on a tier system and “sex crimes” that aren’t even crimes like peeing on the side of a building or Romeo and Juliet cases will be assessed on a case by case basis for malfeasance).

And I feel like I have to throw in this disclaimer ever time I post something like this — this is not diminishing anyone’s experience being sexually assaulted. I’ve been sexually assaulted twice in my life and both were traumatic and horrible. This is simply an unbiased policy assessment of the sex offender registry.


The sex offender registry was authorized by the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 to “To protect children from sexual exploitation and violent crime, to prevent child abuse and child pornography, to promote Internet safety, and to honor the memory of Adam Walsh and other child crime victims” (42 USC §16911).

As the name of the policy indicates, it is in memory of Adam Walsh, a six-year-old boy who was kidnapped in a Florida mall and decapitated. Adam Walsh is the son of John Walsh, the long time presenter of “America’s Most Wanted”. On July 27, 1981, Reve Walsh, Adam’s mother, left him playing in the toy section of Sears in the Hollywood, Florida mall while she stepped away to the lamp section to browse. When she returned to the toy section, he was missing, and Reve Walsh asked managers to call for him over the loud speaker. After two hours with no luck, police were called. Nothing was known of Adam’s whereabouts for two weeks until fishermen found his severed head around Vero Beach. In the light of Adam’s death, his father, John, became an activist including adding the photos of missing people to milk cartons and fliers, and created the show for which he is most well known, “America’s Most Wanted.” (“Police”, 2008). John Walsh’s activism, in addition to many other high profile cases involving the abduction and sexual exploitation of children and minors, lead to the inception of the Adam Walsh Act.

The Act’s aims to fulfill several purposes:

  • “Police have a list of likely suspects should a sex crime occur in the neighborhood in which a registered offender lives
  • Parents have information that will enable them to heighten their vigilance and to warn their children to stay away from particular people
  • Limit offenders’ access to children and their temptation or ability to commit new crimes” (HRW, 2007)

The Adam Walsh Act sets forth specific requirements and definitions for those who have been convicted of a sex offense. It focuses mainly on offenders who have committed a sex offense against minors. It excludes adult sexual offenses, consensual sexual offenses, foreign convictions of sex offenses, etc (42 USC §16911).

The Act requires sex offenders to keep current registration in cities/jurisdictions where he or she is employed, in school, and resides. This part of the act is referred to as The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). When registering, the offender must provide their name, SSN, home address, workplace address, school address, license plate number. In addition, the physical appearance of the offender will be documented as well as a current photo, DNA sample, copy of his or her driver’s license or ID card, and finger prints. However, only specific information is allowed to be made publicly available; SSN, workplace, school, prior arrests not resulting in conviction, and any other information the Attorney General feels should not be made public will not be available to the public (42 USC §16911).

In addition to registering, certainty entities within the community where the sex offender registered will be notified of his or her presence. These entities include law enforcement and probation, agencies that require employment related background checks, social service agencies who deal with minors, volunteer agencies who deal with minors, or any agency who requests the information (42 USC §16911).

The Act creates a tier system for sex offenders determined by the severity of the crime. There are three tiers, each with specific crimes listed for a sex offender to be designated to that tier.

Tier I is the lowest level of the sex offender registry and generally offenses include receiving child pornography, or any other “minor” offenses related to under aged people. Definitions differ from state to state. Offenders are required to register for a number of years designated by the state, however federally it is required to be more than 15 years. If the offender recidivates, the registration period will be longer. The offender is required to present themselves for renewal of their registration ever year (Rinehart, 2006).

A Tier II sex offense is defined by being sentenced to more than one year in prison. Different states have different requirements for length of registration. For instance, Connecticut requires Tier II offenders to register for 25 years. Offenses include sex trafficking, coercion and enticement, abusive sexual contact, creating child pornography, soliciting a minor for prostitution, etc. The offender is required to present themselves for registration renewal every six months (Rinehart, 2006), (42 USC §16911).

Tier III sex offenses are the most sever types of offenses. Generally, Tier III offenders are required to register for life. Offenses include aggravated sexual abuse or abusive sexual sexual contact greater than that prescribed by Tier II. Offenders must renew their registration every three months (42 USC §16911).

If any jurisdiction refuses to carry out these measures or implements them improperly they will lose 10% of their federal funding for that year (42 USC §16911).


Problem Statement

As with any new policy, especially policies that are designed to assuage the public’s fear and outrage over an act, there are criticisms over lack of policy planning and evaluation. Because of the hideous nature of sexual crimes against children and the incredible amount of public outcry to legislators to “do something about it”, this Act was created.


Unplanned Change

Other than the Adam Walsh case, there were several other cases which prompted and incited public outrage. The 1989 sexual assault and murder of 10 and 11 year old brothers William and Cole Neer by Westley Allan Dodd, who later became notorious with how prolific his appetite for abducting, sexually assaulting, and murdering children was (Dake, 2014). Or, the disappearance of Jacob Wetterling which lead to the Wetterling Act, or more commonly known as Former President Bill Clinton’s Crime Act which aimed to control sexual predation upon children and minors. Then Megan’s Law Passed, then Pam Lychner’s Act, and so forth (“Federal Sex Offender Legislation”, 2014).

As with any unplanned change, there tends to be unanticipated future consequences as well as being “ineffective and wasteful of valuable public resources”. In policy research, unplanned change is defined as “a reaction to a crisis, a dramatic incident publicized by the media, a political opportunity, a lawsuit against criminal justice officials, or an untested set of assumptions about a specific problem” (Welsh & Harris, 2013).

The first few pages of the Adam Walsh act are in memoriam to children who have been lost due to sexual violence. It shows the good intentions of the Act, however it also shows the emotionalism that has been included in this act. Emotional, knee jerk reactions leave no room for planning, logic, or reason. This type of policy making leads to a lack of an empirical foundation and/or a foundation based on theory (Mears, 2010).


Effects on Juveniles

For instance, one of the unconsidered consequences of the Adam Walsh Act is that it subjects juveniles to the same penalties as adults, even though motivations may differ. New York forfeits federal funding because they refuse to uphold the parts of the Act pertaining to juveniles. As of 2011 only 15 states were in full compliance. As Shannon C. Parker states in her study, “Thirty-four states subject juveniles adjudicated delinquent in juvenile court to registration and notification.30 Of the thirty-four states that subject juveniles to registration, eighteen permit public notification of registered juveniles’ information. Additionally, twelve states do not allow juveniles to petition for modification or removal of their registration. In twenty-one of the states requiring juveniles to register, there is no minimum age below which juveniles are exempt from registration. In states where there is no minimum age, young children actually appear on the registry, and therefore a lack of minimum age is not a trivial matter. For example, Delaware, one of the states with no minimum age, had approximately 639 juveniles registered as sex offenders, with fifty-five children under the age of twelve—and a handful even as young as nine years old” (Parker, 2014).

There have been many suggestions by psychologists that to punish children for sexual exploration, which is deemed normal developmental behavior, is unethical and will scar them developmentally. A UCLA study showed that 77% of children engage in sex play, 61% had engaged in sex play with another child. These sex play behaviors did not consist of coercive or forceful contact, nor is it associated with adult deviant sexual behavior. In addition, the DSM does not recognize child sex play as a sign of pedophilia. In addition, some children who have had to register on the sex offender registry have been bullied, go through depression, have trouble in school, and are suicidal (Parker, 2014).

One such case is that of Brandon M – “Brandon M.’s case is an example. Brandon was a senior in high school when he met a 14-year-old girl on a church youth trip. With her parents’ blessing, they began to date, and openly saw each other romantically for almost a year. When it was disclosed that consensual sexual contact had occurred, her parents pressed charges against Brandon and he was convicted of sexual assault and placed on the sex offender registry in his state. As a result, Brandon was fired from his job. He will be on the registry and publicly branded as a sex offender for the rest of his life. In his mother’s words, “I break down in tears several times a week. I know there are violent sexual predators that need to be punished, but this seems like punishment far beyond reasonable for what my son did’” (HRW, 2007).

From a court’s perspective, there have been several decisions both pro and con of having juveniles register as sex offenders and whether or not it was constitutional. In Smith v. Doe, 538 U.S. 84 (2003) the Supreme Court held”[the] Sex Offender Registration Act is nonpunitive, its retroactive application does not violate the Ex Post Facto Clause.” Conversely, in Graham v. Florida 560 U.S. ___ (2010), the Supreme Court that it was unconstitutional for juvenile sex offenders to be sentenced to life without parole in that it violates the Eighth Amendment’s “cruel and unusual punishment” clause. Similarly, in Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551 (2005), the Supreme Court ruled juveniles cannot be subject to the death penalty. Building on these two decisions, the Ohio Supreme Court held in In re C.P., that requiring a juvenile to register as a sex offender for life is unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment.

Human Rights Watch Study – Stigmatization of Sex Offenders

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) completed a comprehensive view of the Adam Walsh Act and found several glaring problems with the policy:

  • “The registration laws are overbroad in scope and overlong in duration, requiring people to register who pose no safety risk;
  • Under community notification laws, anyone anywhere can access online sex offender registries for purposes that may have nothing to do with public safety. Harassment of and violence against registrants have been the predictable result;
  • In many cases, residency restrictions have the effect of banishing registrants from entire urban areas and forcing them to live far from their homes and families” (HRW, 2007).

One of the major points HRW discusses is how the registration affects those who are on it. Being on the sex offender registry is akin to having “a scarlet letter” emblazoned upon their chest. Generally the language used to describe the offense does not give any indicator to what the offense actually was and often leads the public to believe the worst. One of the interviewees, Jameel N., in this report state “When people see my picture on the state sex offender registry they assume I am a pedophile. I have been called a baby rapist by my neighbors; feces have been left on my driveway; a stone with a note wrapped around it telling me to “watch my back” was thrown through my window, almost hitting a guest. What the registry doesn’t tell people is that I was convicted at age 17 of sex with my 14-year-old girlfriend, that I have been offense-free for over a decade, that I have completed my therapy, and that the judge and my probation officer didn’t even think I was at risk of reoffending. My life is in ruins, not because I had sex as a teenager, and not because I was convicted, but because of how my neighbors have reacted to the information on the internet” (HRW, 2007).

From my own experience, having a brother on the sex offender registry, I have had firsthand experience of how stigmatizing it can be. My brother’s experience was extremely similar to Jameel N.’s. He served time for his offense, is on probation, goes to group therapy. He is not high risk for recidivating for a sexual offense. In the last 10 years since his release from prison, he has not had a stable job, has not been able to find housing outside of my parent’s home, has psychological issues from his ordeal and difficulty maintaining friendships and relationships when he discloses he is on the sex offender registry. It exposes individuals to harassment and difficulties in becoming a productive member of society once released from prison.

Residency requirements also pose issues for sex offenders. Many cities have requirements for sex offenders to not live within a specific amount of feet from a location where children may congregate such as a bus stop, school, or daycare. In addition, many rentors refuse to rent to sex offenders. They may also have difficulties rooming with friends and family because the do not want their addresses to be listed on the sex offender registries. This causes many sex offenders to abscond or become transient (Ennis, 2008) (HRW, 2007).


Policy Evaluation Hierarchy

When assessing whether or not a policy is effective, there are logical steps listed by Mears. The gist behind the evaluation hierarchy is that if the questions presented in the evaluation are not adequately answered, then it would not be advisable to proceed to the next level in the hierarchy. Sometimes, there is a lack of information to make a satisfactory judgment, however the heirarchy guides policy makers and researchers through the process in the best and most thorough way possible. There are five main steps: needs evaluation, theory evaluation, implementation/process evaluation, outcome/impact evaluation, and a cost-efficiency evaluation (Mears, 2010).


Needs Evaluation

The Adam Walsh Act, although based in emotionalism and public reactions to high profile crimes, acts as a glue for other similar policies that came before it such as Megan’s Law and the Wetterling Act. Obviously, there was a need for action in order to control the growing epidemic of sex crimes – a real social problem exists. However, policy makers do not have a great deal of training in research and there is a lack of communication between policy makers and researchers. This creates ineffective policies. When the Adam Walsh Act was implemented, it begs the question – was there a proper needs evaluation conducted?

There are three main components to a needs evaluation:

  1. “Are existing efforts insufficient to address [the problem]?”
  2. “Are existing efforts to address [the problem] not only insufficient, but also not amenable to correction?”
  3. “In comparison to existing efforts to respond to some assumed or documented social problem, is the proposed or newly implemented policy a needed substitute or supplement?” (Mears, 2010).

At the time the Adam Walsh Act was made into law, there were other pieces of legislation that created sex offender registries as well as notification systems. The Jacob Wetterling Act in 1994 created guidelines for states to track convicted sex offenders and required that violent predators be monitored for life and general sex offenders to be monitored for 10 years. In 1996, Megan’s law allowed sex offender registration records open for the public. In the same year, the Pam Lychner Sex Offender Tracking and Identification Act of 1996 created a national registry with the FBI. These acts, along with incidental acts that modified other pieces of legislation to prevent internet access to incarcerated sex offenders, and so forth, were not as all encompassing as the Adam Walsh Act which acted as a large cast net for any type of sex offender from the mundane and humiliating public urination charge and juvenile offenses, to dyed-in-the-wool truly violent sexual predators (“Federal Legislation”, 2014). The prior acts suggest there definitely was a need, however the pertinent question is whether or not they were effective enough? If the prior policy is ineffective because of one reason or another, should it be eliminated altogether and just have a modified Adam Walsh Act? Or simply amend the policy that is in place now and eliminate the Adam Walsh Act?


Theory Evaluation

Although the Adam Walsh Act is a knee-jerk policy created out of several highly publicized cases, it is firmly rooted in criminological theory.

The sex offender registry is firmly rooted in rational choice and deterrence theory. Rational choice theory is based upon economic theory, specifically the expected utility principle – “people will make rational decisions based on the extent to which they expect the choice to maximize their profits or benefits and minimize the costs or losses” (Akers & Sellers, 2013). For a sex offender, would the benefits of committing the act outweigh the punishment. As mentioned before, the sex offender registry is extremely punitive – with this are the hopes that it will be a greater deterrent on both a specific and general level.

The Adam Walsh Act also has some validity in routine activities theory. Routine activities theory states that for a crime to occur there must be “motivated offenders, suitable targets of criminal victimization, and absence of capable guardians of persons or property” (Akers & Sellers, 2013). By having sex offenders register, people in the vicinity are better able to gird themselves to reduce their suitability as a target as well as acquiring more and better guardianship (i.e. a dog, firearm, alarm system, etc.). In addition, the registry is theorized to decrease the motivation of the offender due to immediate knowledge of their presence within the community – if any sex crimes do occur, the registered offenders will be the first ones law enforcement agencies visit.

However, all of this assumes that the run of the mill sex offender is a rational being. There have been many studies conducted concerning recidivism rates among sex offenders, specifically pedophiles or violent sexual predators. Because of definitional and jurisdictional differences, recidivism rates for sex offenders vary widely between studies. In the Neller and Petris study, they narrowed recidivism rates for sexually violent predators to 13%-14% after a short term follow up (4-6 years) and 30%-40% on a long term scale (20-25 years). It is difficult to determine whether or not a sex offender will recidivate. One study shows that recidivism rates were higher for sex offenders who went through treatment – 52% recidiviated compared to the 13% recidivism rate for those who did not attend treatment programs (Neller & Petris, 2013). A study conducted in Germany shows that “a lack of self-control (i.e., the tendency to pursue short-term, immediate pleasure to the neglect of long-term consequences) to be the sole factor in understanding and predicting criminal activity” (Strüber et al, 2008). In addition, there may be a biological predisposition toward aggressive sexual behaviors in relation with brain structures and malformations. Strüber states in his study that “prefrontal disruption consistently occurs across anatomical and functional studies with a wide range of clinical and forensic populations, which are characterized by emotional dyscontrol and impulsivity/aggression, suggesting that prefrontal dysfunction may predispose to impulsive aggression and violence.”

In sum – there are several factors at place, both psychological and biological that may cause a person to be inherently sexually violent. Because of this, they are not rational. Basing this policy in theory is well and good, however if the group of people who are being dictated by this policy do not make rational decisions, nor care about ramifications for said decisions, then any theoretical foundation is void. At this point, this policy serves more as a tool for law enforcement agencies than a deterrent.


Implementation/Process Evaluations

An implementation evaluation “document[s] whether a policy delivers the appropriate amount and types of operations, decisions, services, and activities to intended targets in a high-quality manner” (Mears, 2010). For SORNA, an implementation evaluation would be whether or not it fulfills its goals and objectives.

Goals Evaluation

The five main goals/principles of the criminal justice system are incapacitation, deterrence, rehabilitation, retribution, and rehabilitation. These are essentially the bread and butter to the system; any criminal justice policy that is a criminal sanction will follow most of these principles. In addition to these principles, there are also normative goals for criminal sanctions including proportionality, equity, parsimony, and humane treatment (Welsh & Harris, 2013).

The Adam Walsh Act fulfills some of these goals, but also falls short on other goals. For instance, it acts as incapacitation in that the offender must register and have his or her residents confined to specific locations. Probation for sex offenders also acts as a means of incapacitation.

The Act also serves as a means of both general and specific deterrence – specific for the offender, and general for those who are considering committing a sexual offense but are deterred from doing it because of the registry and other punitive measures put into place.

The Act, most of all, is retributive in every respect. The registration process is retributive in that the offender must hand over their information to the authorities for them to post it on a public website for all to see. This includes potential employers, neighbors, schools – everyone. The type of stigma and public shaming involved with being a sex offender can range from passive aggressiveness, to assault, vandalism, discrimination, etc. In sum – instead of being punished by the government for a crime, the offender is being punished by all of society.

For offenders who have mandatory counseling as part of their sentencing, there may be some rehabilitative benefits. There is not any real empirical evidence if this type of counseling works. As for restoration, the act falls short. Instead of allowing the offender to become a functioning and productive member of society, it stigmatizes them and separates them from society. They are unable to find gainful employment, maintain residence, and contribute to society.

When it comes to normative goals, whether or not the Adam Walsh Act follows these goals is debatable. For instance, proportionality has been discussed when it comes to juvenile offenders. But what about those who did not commit “serious” crimes. For instance, a 15-year-old girl was taking nude photographs of herself, and sending them to her boyfriend. When it was found out, she was charged as a Tier II sex offender (Zimmer, 2008). Or, like the case of Wendy Whitacker who is now a registered sex offender for consensually performing oral sex on her nearly 16 year old boyfriend when she was 17. And finally, the oft cited urinating in public.

Parsimony is another of the normative goals that the Adam Walsh Act seems to overlook. Parsimony is “the principle of using the least drastic and expensive measure needed to produce a specific objective” (Welsh & Harris, 2013). The Justice Policy Institute provides a fiscal breakdown of what SORNA would cost states the first year it was implemented, compared to the 10% loss of federal funding:

Fig 1. Table of initial cost of implementation of SORNA for individual states compared with their 10% federal funding

It begs the question, is prison sentencing not enough and is this grand expenditure on a program with no empirical backing truly worth it?

Another normative goal to be discussed in reference to the Adam Walsh Act is whether or not the policy is humane. The Supreme Court decided in Smith that sex offender registration did not qualify as cruel and unusual punishment because it was “non violent”. However, the registration itself puts individuals in the cross hairs for potential violence. In 2006, a Nova Scotia man, Stephen Marshall, looked up names and addresses on the Maine sex offender registry and proceeded to seek them out and kill them. He killed two individuals on the sex offender registry – William Elliot, 24, and Joseph Gray, 57 (“Suspected Killer”, 2006).

The Human Right’s Watch study states in regards to violence against offenders, “Registrants and their families have been hounded from their homes, had rocks thrown through their home windows, and feces left on their front doorsteps. They have been assaulted, stabbed, and had their homes burned by neighbors or strangers who discovered their status as a previously convicted sex offender. At least four registrants have been targeted and killed (two in 2006 and two in 2005) by strangers who found their names and addresses through online registries. Other registrants have been driven to suicide, including a teenager who was required to register after he had exposed himself to girls on their way to gym class. Violence directed at registrants has injured others. The children of sex offenders have been harassed by their peers at school, and wives and girlfriends of offenders have been ostracized from social networks and at their jobs” (HRW, 2007).


Objectives Evaluation

The declaration of purpose in the Adam Walsh Act states “to protect the public from sex offenders and offenders against children, and in response to the vicious attacks by violent predators against the victims listed below, Congress in this Act establishes a comprehensive national system for the registration of those offenders” (42 USC §16911). This part of the act specifically creates SORNA – the registry itself.

There are four specific and measurable components when determining the objectives of a policy: time frame, target population, result/outcome, and criterion or measurement for success (Welsh & Harris, 2013).

When the Adam Walsh Act was signed into law in 2006, jurisdictions were given 3 years to fully implement SORNA. If jurisdictions did not implement SORNA they would forfeit 10% of federal funding given to them on an annual basis (42 USC §16911). As of now, all 50 states have a sex offender registry.

Implementation of SORNA was mandatory throughout the U.S. and territories. Native American Nations were encouraged to create a registry, as well. As of 2012, over 120 tribes participate in SORNA (“Indian Tribes”, 2014). However, some states, like New York, do not fully implement SORNA in terms of juvenile sex offenders (Parker, 2014).

The desired results for the Adam Walsh Act was to have a lower instance of sex crimes against minors by having known offenders register, which allows the registered offenders to be monitored, tracked, and called upon as a suspect if any sex crimes happen in the area in which they are registered (42 USC §16911).

The criterion used to measure the effectiveness is by the number of new sex crimes reported in addition to the recidivism rates of existing offenders. This can be difficult to obtain because nearly 50% of sex crimes are not reported. By having a registry, and knowing that the perpetrators will be listed, can cause some victims trepidation about reporting if they know the perpetrator or are related to the offender. Additionally, definitions of laws have changed which changes the dynamics of how sex offenses are reported (Prescott & Rockoff, 2011).

However, with such a widespread policy, there are bound to be cracks. Consider sex offenders who refuse to register and simply disappear. Law enforcement has jus.01 lost track of them. This type of behavior is called absconding. There have been problems with sex offenders absconding in major metropolitan areas. For instance, in 2009 Atlanta P.D. had lost track of more than 250 sex offenders in the metro area (Judd, 2009). In southern California, there are 350 sex offenders unaccounted for (Thompson, 2013)


Outcome and Impact Evaluation

Outcome and impact evaluations deduce the different levels of outcomes and ensure the policy is associated with the outcome. Essentially – it needs to be known whether or not the policy actually works. There are no assumptions or causal claims – it needs to be backed empirically. For instance, if SORNA were to be considered effective, there would need to be a direct decrease in sex crimes and recidivism rate. The reduction in sex crimes would be from the deterrent properties of the policy, and recidivism rates would go down as a result of deterrence and hyper-vigilance. The figures presented as evidence of effectiveness would need to be unbiased from a third party researcher with no stakeholders involved in the research to ensure it is unbiased. In addition, it would have to fulfill the goals and objectives initially created in the policy’s nascent stages.


Cost/Benefit Analysis

To answer these types of questions posed above, a cost-efficiency or a cost/benefit analysis should be performed. A cost-efficiency evaluation “involves the same type of logic” and is the metaphorical comparison between apples and apples. A cost/benefit analysis “is used to determine which of several approaches that target qualitatively different outcomes” or the metaphorical apples to oranges comparison. There are six steps to a cost/benefit analysis: “state the policy question, identify the perspective of analysis, identify all relevant costs and benefits, assign values to cost and benefits, compare the costs and benefits of one or more policies, and assess the sensitivity of the results to critical assumptions and detail all relevant assumptions and limitations” (Mears, 2010).

Because of how complex sex offender policy is, the easiest way to determine monetary effectiveness is to perform a cost/benefit analysis. This way, all factors will carry a monetary tag. Using the amounts listed in Fig. 1, on a national level, the implementation of SORNA cost nearly $500 million. The study conducted by the Justice Policy Institute showed that many states were struggling to rationalize the costs. The technology alone will cost states $85,000 annually. Treatment programs and maintenance of sex offender’s registration information to databases would cost states another $100,000 annually. Because of SORNA, overall expenditures on personnel, software, prison space, court and administrative costs, law enforcement costs, and other ancillary costs saw increased expenditures (“What will it cost”, 2014). These types of costs are direct costs – they are “they are closely related to the primary objective of the policy” (Mears, 2010).

But there are also the benefits to be considered such as SORNA being a tool for law enforcement, peace of mind by the public knowing sexual predators are on a registry and being monitored, mandatory sentencing, knowing policy makers are seeing that there is a problem, etc.

Sexual violence comprises of only 3.7% of all reported crimes. Nearly 50% of all sexual violence is not reported. Another study shows a paltry 19% of sexual crimes being reported. Fortunately, during the years of 1999-2005 sexual violence showed a 69% decrease – a full year before the Adam Walsh Act was enacted. Because of differing rates of recidivism, it is difficult to determine whether or not it is mainly offenders who are recidivous or new offenders committing these crimes. One study quotes 87% of individuals arrested for sex crimes had no prior record (HRW, 2007). Because of the varying figures and under reporting, it is difficult to put a finger on the actual cost of the crime.

These types of costs would be considered indirect costs – “by-products, multipliers, spillovers, or investment affects of the policy” (Mears, 2010). Some of them, such as pain, fear, anxiety, and suffering are intangible costs and difficult to quantify. Victims also experience other costs that are not even calculated in most of these incidents – therapy, medical bills, lost productivity, insurance, etc. (Daigle, 2012). Mears recommends proceeding without including these costs because there is no market for this.

Another type of cost/benefit analysis that can be used in regards to sex offender legislation is a risk assessment. What is the risk of not having this policy, especially considering it deals with an extremely dangerous subset of the criminal population? For instance, the state of New Jersey implemented the Registrant Risk Assessment Scale (RRAS) in 1995, before SORNA’s use of the tier system. The RRAS focuses on four different factors to determine risk: seriousness of past offenses, offense history, characteristics of the offender, and community support. Offenders were graded and depending on their grade they are placed on a tier scale with Tier I being the lowest risk and Tier III being the highest risk (Lanterman et al, 2014). In addition to tools such as RRAS and other legislation available, would it be detrimental to not have SORNA? With each states having their own type of registration and assessment policies before the implementation of SORNA, does this extra “layer” act as a loss prevention or reduction tool in addition to current state and federal legislation and is it worth the additional costs?

There are shortcomings to a cost/benefit analysis. Many of the monetary values that would normally be difficult to place may sometimes build on implausibilities or assumptions. Even the ever changing reported recidivism rates of sex offenders is an assumption, but it is necessary.

One way the National Institute of Justice aims to perform a cost/benefit analysis on SORNA is to outsource it and the group who provides the best analysis wins a prize (“SORNA Challenge”, 2013).


Policy Implementation

Truthfully, it would wasteful and foolish to throw away this concept altogether. Sexual violence is a real and horrible thing. But for there to be one effective, catch all program, there needs to be a program overhaul with a hardened empirical backbone in place. For this to happen the program needs to be redesigned.

There are some points to be considered in the beginning stages of designing a program:

  • “The problem or need to be addressed”
  • “It’s etiology and theory that explain how these causes to work to produce the problem”
  • “Possible interventions, including interventions that have already been tried”
  • “Goals and objectives” (Walsh & Harris, 2013).
  • Target populations

The main problem is creating a sex offender registry that is effective in preventing recidivism, while avoiding the problems the current registry system faces such as incidental crimes causing people to be branded as a sex offender, absconding, technology, and other issues that may come up.

There are many criminological, psychological, and physiological theories that address deviant and criminal sexual behavior. In addition, fiscal restrictions create issues in the implementation of the current registration program.

There have already been many attempts to remedy the sex offender situation including psychological treatment, punitive measures, incapacitation, and other methods. Maybe it would be best to try a different combination.

Some of the barriers to the creation of a new sex offender monitoring program would be advocates of the current program, fiscal barriers, technological barriers, sex offenders themselves, victims under reporting incidents, and many other unforeseen variables that can be anticipated.

Objectives for this new program:

  • Noticeably decrease the recidivism rate
  • Keep at least 99.9% of non-incarcerated sex offenders monitored electronically (.01% accounts for those who abscond for whatever reason)
  • Create a registry that would provide law enforcement with sex offender’s addresses and information, but limit public access to specific information so as to not endanger the offender
  • Provide treatment and rehabilitation to sex offenders who will benefit
  • Having psychological assessments conducted on sex offenders before release to determine if they will recidivate
  • Keep known violent sexual predators incarcerated.
  • Create special correctional facilities in each state for solely sex offenders.
  • Create a new protocol for juvenile offenders on a case-by-case basis.
    • Violent sexual assaults by minors will be handled differently than innocent sexual exploration that has been thoroughly documented in children, or any other type of “Romeo and Juliet” incident.
    • The minimum allowed age for an individual on the sex offender registry will be 13.
    • Juvenile records will remain sealed unless psychological evaluations suggest the juvenile is a violent sexual predator.


Action Planning

An action plan is simply a blueprint of how to implement a program or policy. It has clear details of the how the program will be implemented, when (including a time frame) it will be implemented and in what stages, and how personnel are to be added and coordinated (Welsh & Harris, 2013).

In addition to the action plan, a resource plan also needs to be created. A resource plan ensures expenditures are properly allocated at the proper times to the correct groups. Luckily, if a new sex offender registry program is to be implemented, it can use the same resources as the previous one – it can utilize the same computer networks, reporting, etc. Also, law enforcement has already been trained on how to deal with sex offenders. Federal funding is already given to states for the sex offender registry, it simply needs to be reallocated, with main expenditures used for reorganization and monitoring systems (Welsh & Harris, 2013).

A visually appealing and concise way to organize these two plans, with who is doing what task, is in a Gantt Chart. However, with an overhaul this large and multidimensional, it would take hundreds of law enforcement personnel, policy makers, and other staff to fully implement the program.


Policy Implementation and Monitoring

With this type of program, monitoring and data collection are key. Because one of the main goals for this program is to have an empirical backbone, ensuring data is collected and analyzed allows benchmarks and the creation of progress reports.

For a program on this scale, it would be best to do a trial run in one state. For this, researchers and law enforcement personnel need to work hand in hand to ensure all facets of the program are being monitored. As mentioned above, New Jersey has correctional institutions set up specifically for sex offenders with psychological evaluations (RRAS) in place for offenders. Welsh and Harris list four ways for data to be collected including observation, records, staff data, and data from participants.

The program itself would need to start in the correctional institution set aside for sex offenders. There needs to be a different system of treatment and rehabilitation for offenders depending on their type of offense. For instance, violent sexual predators, who obviously pose a risk to the general public, will not be released.

There will be no need for a Tier III sex offender. Anyone who falls into that tier will be incarcerated due based on risk assessments. What would be considered Tier II sex offenders will receive therapy while incarcerated. They will serve the time given to them. For a Tier II offense, the minimum sentencing guideline would be at least five to ten years. For a Tier I offender, their case will be reviewed, and if the charge is menial (the ubiquitous and oft cited public urination charge, or a college freshman who got caught streaking, etc) and these offenders pose no real risk, after having a psychological evaluation to determine this, will receive a sentence of what the judge feels is best based off the crime and risk assessment.

For the sex offender registry, the main details – name, address, physical description, and all other identifying information – will be kept within law enforcement. The general public will be notified if a sex offender has moved into the immediate area (approximately 1-3 mile radius), without specific details given on their address. Potential employers who perform a background check will be notified of the charge. By having these measures in place, it ensures individuals who have been rehabilitated and released back into the general public will not be publicly stigmatized – it allows them to become functional members of society. New technology such as RFID chips or GPS tracking will be used on Tier II offenders. This allows law enforcement to monitor the whereabouts of known offenders so that if a sex crime does happen, the past locations of potential known perpetrators can be accessed. Having this electronic 24-hour location monitoring will serve as both a tool for law enforcement and a deterrent for offenders.

The same personnel can be used; they already have training in how to interact and deal with sex offenders. A simple change in duties and maybe some additional training will be all that is needed. For the test institution, sex offenders in other correctional institutions need to be transferred to the “new” institution, and the inmate population that currently resides at the institution that will be used for sex offenders will be disseminated into other institutions.

The main expenditure other than personnel would be technology. The monitoring equipment would need to be acquired for existing sex offenders. In addition, servers and other storage mediums would need to be purchased or reallocated.


Evaluating Outcomes

Evaluation of this program will be conducted like a research project. Data will be collected, analyzed, and interpreted.

The main sources of data will come from law enforcement agencies and probationers reporting any incidents of recidivism as they occur. Also, psychologists who are conducting tests will also provide data and insight, as well. Because the program is being tested in only one state, data collection and analysis will not be some overwhelming task with large amounts of errors and oversights. In addition, fiscal monitoring will take place to ensure this program will not exceed budget limitations. It will also provide a cost estimate to other states for planning and implementation purposes.

Data will be collected on a specific survey-style form. Variables for the evaluation will differ depending on what “stage” the offender is in. If the offender is still incarcerated, data will be provided by psychological personnel who are observing and treating offenders. Variables will include whether or not the offender is violent, remorseful, indifferent, or any other indicator that may be helpful for both treatment and data analysis as well as basic demographic data (age, gender, race, socioeconomic status, etc). For offenders who are not incarcerated, their probationer will collect data including living situation, employment status, criminal activities (both relating to sex offenses and non-sexual offenses). A database will be maintained with all information collected on a particular offender both in and out of prison will be accumulated. This data will be analyzed to see if there are any trends for recidivism that can make it more predictable or any other indicators that will help law enforcement apprehend monitor potential offenders.


Assessment Outcomes

Assessments should happen quarterly – this will allow for “real time” data analysis for the program, rather than annually where it would be more difficult to alter the program if the data shows there is a problem.

If data shows that parts of the program need to be modified, these aspects can be tweaked, and in a few years after the program has been implemented in the test state, and it is shown to be successful during its “test run”, it can be implemented on a national level.

The recidivism and sex crime rates in other states will be used as an impromptu “control group” for this evaluation. Essentially, the sex crime and recidivism rates in the test state will be compared to the rates of other states or national data.

A meta-analysis will be used to analyze the collected data every quarter. Data analysis programs such as SPSS can be used to organize the data and multi-variate analysis including regression models, Chi-Square, and other methods to determine significance. One way to assess the results of data analysis is an impact evaluation – it compares actual outcomes against desired outcomes. Another method of assessment is a performance evaluation, which allows researchers to “collect and analyze outcome information on… a permanent basis” (Mears & Harris, 2013). Another assessment that can be used to determine the success of the program is a cost effectiveness analysis so that results can be quantified into a monetary value and compared, as mentioned above.

If the program is shown to be successful and implemented on a national level, data collection and analysis will still be ongoing. The program will be out of beta testing; data will probably only need to be analyzed in totality every year. This will keep law enforcement, researchers, and policy makers abreast of any new trends or concerns.



Patty Wetterling, Jacob Wetterling’s mother, said “People want a silver bullet that will protect their children. There is no silver bullet. There is no simple cure to the very complex problem of sexual violence.” SORNA has been analyzed and criticized by domestic and international groups for its disregard of human rights as well as its ineffectiveness. The program design presented in this paper allows for a more offender-focused policy. If offenders are monitored by law enforcement more through GPS or RFID tracking, it can be hypothesized that recidivism rates will decline. Better research and data collection/analysis methodology will allow for more accurate violent sexual predator identification in the future in addition to better monitoring and treatment for mid-level sex offenders.


Works Cited

Adam Walsh Child Protection Act of 2006, 42 USC §16911
Akers, R., & Sellers, C. (2013). Criminological theories. (6th ed.). Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.
Dake, L. (2014, August 24). Westley Allan Dodd killings: A gruesome anniversary. The Colombian. Retrieved December 4, 2014, from
Daigle, L. (2012). Victimology: A Text/Reader.
Enniss, B. (2008). Quickly Assuaging Public Fear: How the Well-Intended Adam Walsh Act Led to Unintended Consequences. Utah Law Review, 697-721.
“Federal Sex Offender Legislation” (2014) Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART), U.S. Office of Justice Programs. Retrieved December 4, 2014 from
Graham v. Florida 560 U.S. ____(2010)
Henry, S. (2009, August 28). Wendy Whitaker, symbol of flawed sex offender law, rearrested. Creative Loafing Atlanta. Retrieved December 4, 2014, from
In re C.P., 967 N.E.2d 729, 751 (Ohio 2012)
Judd, A. (2009, December 21). More than 200 sex offenders cannot be found. Atlanta Journal Constitution. Retrieved from
Lanterman, L., Boyle, D., & Ragusa-Salerno, L. (2014). Sex offender risk assessment, sources of variation, and the implications of misuse. Criminal Justice and Behavior, (41), 822-843. doi: 10.1177/0093854813515237
Mears, D. P. (2010). American Criminal Justice Policy: An Evaluation Approach- to Increasing Accountability and Effectiveness. Cambridge University Press, NY.
National Institution of Justice, Office of Justice Programs. (2013). Sorna challenge. Retrieved from website:
Neller, D., & Petris, G. (2013). Sexually violent predators: Toward reasonable estimates of recidivism base rates. Behavioral Sciences and the Law31, 429–443. doi: 10.1002/bsl.2072
“No Easy Answers: Sex Offender Laws in the U.S”. (2007). Human Rights Watch, 19(4).
Office of Justice Programs, Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registration, and Tracking. (2014). Indian tribes/nations/pueblos implementing SORNA. Retrieved from website:
Parker, S. (2014). Branded for Life: The Unconstitutionality of Mandatory Lifetime Juvenile Sex offender Registration and Notification. Virginia Journal of Social Policy & the Law., 21(1), 167-205.
Police: ’81 Killing of Adam Walsh Solved. (2008, January 1). Retrieved December 4, 2014, from
Prescott, J., & Rockoff, J. (2011). Do sex offender registration and notification laws affect criminal behavior?. Journal of Law and Economics54(1), 161-206.
Reinhart, C. (2006) Federal Law on Classifying Sex Offenders, (2006-R-0765) Hartford, CT
Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551 (2005)
Smith v. Doe, 538 U.S. 84 (2003)
Suspected killer accessed online sex offender registry, Maine police say. (2006, April 17).CBC News. Retrieved December 4, 2014, from
Strüber, D., Lück, M., & Roth, G. (2008). Sex, aggression and impulse control: an integrative account.Neurocase14(1), 93-121. doi: 10.1080/13554790801992743
Thompson, D. (2013, March 7). NBC Los Angeles. Retrieved from
Welsh, W., & Harris, P. (2013). Criminal justice policy and planning. Waltham, Massachusetts: Elsevier.
What will it cost states What will it cost states to comply with the Sex to comply with the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act? (2007, January 1). Retrieved December 4, 2014, from
Zimmer, R. (2008, October 8). Newark Advocate. Retrieved December 4, 2014, from




The Demonizing of People in Pain


I came across this on r/news, about a woman in Kansas, undergoing chemo for terminal cancer, who was prescribed a drug called Marinol. This drug is essentially a derivative of marijuana. She was charged with DUI because she had THC in her system, from the Marinol and now is going to spend 48 hours in jail, missing a chemo appointment.


A grandmother with terminal cancer is in the Sedgwick County Jail because of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, in her system while she was driving.

But the THC was in her system because it is in a medication her pharmacist says she needs in order to eat while on chemotherapy.

Angela Kastner has colorectal cancer. KAKE News spoke with her Tuesday night, right before she reported to jail for a 48-hour sentence. She’s in jail as a result of a DUI, although she had nothing to drink.

“I had … Marinol in my system that the doctors in Oklahoma gave me to fight cancer. I’ve been fighting cancer 5 years,” Kastner said.

Marinol is an FDA approved medication for cancer patients. It helps them keep down food. It’s a synthetic form of THC, but it’s legal.

According to her pharmacist, the amount of THC in her blood is not enough to make anyone high. The time Kastner will spend in jail will force her to miss a chemo session, which will force her to restart her whole regimen. Her doctor is not happy.

“I miss my chemo tomorrow and I miss my doctors appointment tomorrow,” said Kastner.

Colonel Brenda Dietzman with the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office says Kastner chose the date on which to begin her 48-hour sentence and the jail has to accommodate that.

“We routinely, on a daily basis, take inmates to dialysis and other medical procedures and appointments,” Dietzman said. “We take the care of our inmates very seriously.”

She could not speak to why Kastner did not take the option of being taken for chemo, referring calls to the city courts. However, she did say that approximately $6 million is spent each year for inmate medical expenses, which is about three times the annual cost of the jail’s food.

Kastner said she is coming forward with her story so other cancer patients won’t have to experience the same legal treatment.

“I feel sorry for the next cancer patient who has to go through anything I have had to go through. They shouldn’t have to do this at the end of their life.”

Kastner did plead no contest to the DUI charge. In a document obtained by KAKE News, her doctor says that if chemotherapy does not work then she will need hospice care.


Now I know she’s only going to spend 48 hours in jail — but it is the principle of it. Yes she was driving with THC in her system, which can be dangerous. But honestly, I feel like it is “better” for a lack of a better word, that if you are going to drive with a substance in your system that may or may not alter your perception, I’d rather it THC than alcohol.

And current studies are fuzzy on whether or not THC consumption does have a negative effect on driving because most studies where drivers were under the influence also reported consuming alcohol as well as THC.

Although cognitive studies suggest that cannabis use may lead to unsafe driving, experimental studies have suggested that it can have the opposite effect. Epidemiological studies have themselves been inconsistent, and thus have not resolved the question. One possibility is that people who smoke marijuana share qualities—being young, male, and risk-taking—that would increase their risk of road traffic accidents even in the absence of marijuana use. It has been suggested that there is a single factor that underlies adolescent “problem behaviors” such as illicit drug use, precocious sexual intercourse, and problem drinking.96 Two epidemiological studies in New Zealand that attempted to address this hypothesis found that the significant relationship that existed between self-reported cannabis use and self-reported accidents (OR 1.6 and 3.9, respectively) disappeared after risky driver behaviors and unsafe driver attitudes were controlled for.97, 98 A follow-up study found that the crash risk for driving under the influence of cannabis more than 20 times in one year (OR 2.25) was halved and reduced to marginal significance when distance driven and self-reported risky driving behaviors were controlled for.99 A third Canadian study that compared crash rates in cannabis users found an even higher adjusted OR of 2.61 for crashing over the course of the year in those who drove while “stoned” versus marijuana smokers who did not, suggesting that the decision to drive while intoxicated may predict poor judgment and unsafe driving habits even in the absence of marijuana use.100

In summary, laboratory tests and driving studies show that cannabis may acutely impair several driving-related skills in a dose-related fashion, but that the effects between individuals vary more than they do with alcohol because of tolerance, differences in smoking technique, and different absorptions of THC. Driving and simulator studies show that detrimental effects vary in a dose-related fashion, and are more pronounced with highly automatic driving functions, but more complex tasks that require conscious control are less affected, which is the opposite pattern from that seen with alcohol. Because of both this and an increased awareness that they are impaired, marijuana smokers tend to compensate effectively for their impairment by utilizing a variety of behavioral strategies such as driving more slowly, passing less, and leaving more space between themselves and cars in front of them. Combining marijuana with alcohol eliminates the ability to use such strategies effectively, however, and results in impairment even at doses that would be insignificant were they of either drug alone. Case-control studies are inconsistent, but suggest that while low concentrations of THC do not increase the rate of accidents, and may even decrease them, serum concentrations of THC higher than 5 ng/mL are associated with an increased risk of accidents (Figure 2). Overall, though, case-control and culpability studies have been inconclusive, a determination reached by several other recent reviewers.101, 102 Similar disagreement has never existed in the literature on alcohol use and crash risk.103

But at the end of the day, the indignation of it all is that this is a woman with terminal cancer — if chemo doesn’t work, she’s going to die. Let her have her goddamn THC and live her life. I mean, if she was all kinds of dangerous and couldn’t pass a field sobriety test, then by all means, lock her up. But there wasn’t enough THC in her system for her to even be high.

And having dealt with family having debilitating illnesses that required chemo and medications that impair perceptions, it’s difficult. Because you know and love those people, you have a great deal of compassion and sympathy — they are in tremendous pain. Why not let them medicate? It seems cruel to not to.

The whole reason she had the accident in the first place was because she was dehydrated from chemo:

It is no secret that Sedgwick County, Kansas has no problem putting someone in jail for often trivial and victimless crimes. On Wednesday, Sedgwick County flexed their muscle towards a 53-year-old woman dying of Stage 4 Colon Cancer.

Last year, Angela Kastner was involved in a car accident after suffering from dehydration from her chemotherapy. Kastner got sick in her vehicle, which caused her to hit a dump truck, then forced her vehicle into other vehicles.

Kastner, who already had enough medical ailments, received a brain bleed from her airbag going off during the accident. The accident was deemed Kastner’s fault, and her insurance took care of all cars involved.

Trace Amounts Of Prescription Marinol

While Kastner thought that would be the end of the situation, the Sedgwick County court system had other plans. Kastner had trace amounts of prescription Marinol in her system.

Marinol is an FDA approved medication used with chemotherapy to commonly help with some of the side effects of the treatment, such as a severe loss of appetite.

In December, Kastner found out exactly how far Sedgwick County was willing to go to get a conviction. Kastner received notice that she was being charged with a DUI due to the trace amounts of Marinol in her system. Kastner ended up pleading no contest to the DUI.

48-Hours In Jail

On Wednesday, Kastner had to check herself in jail for 48-hours, despite having a scheduled appointment for chemotherapy and a doctors appointment. Kastner will now have to restart her entire regimen; she told KAKE News on Tuesday night before checking herself into jail.

Kastner’s niece, Krystal Wyrick-Fleming is concerned that Kastner will not even be able to make it through the short sentence, due to her diminished health. Along with having to restart her chemotherapy, Wyrick-Fleming is concerned that Kastner will be forced into hospice due to sentence.

Is This Justice

In the same breath, Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett just recently offered self-admitted child molester Brandon Lloyd probation.

Lloyd is in Sedgwick County Jail and charged with six counts of Aggravated Incest, Criminal Sodomy with a Child, Aggravated Indecent Liberties with a Child, and Aggravated Criminal Sodomy.

Lloyd has admitted to the charges he is facing, yet Bennett has offered a plea bargain that would give Lloyd time served, and then place him on probation. The plea bargain also allows Lloyd to move to Ohio to serve his probation.

The Daily Haze received an audio recording between the victim’s parents and Bennett. The video below contains the audio of Bennett explaining why he offered such a low penalty for such a serious list of crimes.

I mean, it’s a known thing that cops are dickheads. Not all cops though, but the media would have you believe there’s a good chunk of them who are dickheads.

And I’m not some drug aficionado — methamphetamine pretty much ruined my childhood.

However, if someone is in pain, let them not be in pain and don’t demonize them for wanting to legally medicate themselves.


The Medical Weed Issues in Florida

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Andy Luis, a patient consultant at Trulieve, Miami’s first retail medical marijuana dispensary located near Miami International Airport, exhibits a vaporiser that can be used with products sold at this store on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 C.M. GUERRERO
Read more here:

Let me preface this — I don’t smoke, it irritates my lungs. However, I advocate for people who have serious medical needs who would benefit from medical weed. Back in the 90’s, my Nana had to have an ostomy after having a good chunk of her innards removed due to colon cancer. Weed, not considered medicinal then, helped her through the pain, helped her start eating again, and helped her get better. That woman is a work horse, and ever after having gone through all that went back to work. 

So, last November the state of FL voted pretty unanimously to legalize medical weed.

Now, they fucked it all up.

The House passed a bill pretty much making it illegal to smoke medical weed.

The Florida House passed legislation that would put medical marijuana into effect in the state after making last-minute changes released by bill sponsors Tuesday morning.

Under the House’s proposal (HB 1397), patients with a list of conditions — including cancer, HIV/AIDS and epilepsy — could be certified to obtain medical marijuana by a doctor. The bill also says that patients with chronic pain can access the drug, but only if that pain is directly linked to a debilitating condition that would have qualified them regardless.

The bill passed 105-9 with votes against it coming from some of the House’s most liberal and most conservative members.

Restrictions and limitations in the bill — including a limited number of license holders and a ban on smoking [but you can still use edibles and vape weed] — are inspired by concerns that the federal government might decide Florida’s medical cannabis program is too unregulated, House sponsor and Republican Leader Ray Rodrigues of Estero said.

“We have to make it legal and available to Florida residents, but we have to do it in such a way that it complies to the guidance we’ve been given by the federal government,” he said.

The bill represents the largest number of new growers proposed to date by the House. It would automatically give the potentially very lucrative license to the seven growers currently licensed under a more limited cannabis program, plus 10 new growers right off the bat. After that, four new growers could enter the market for every 100,000 patients.

According to Rodrigues, “95 percent” of the language in the legislation represents a compromise with the Florida Senate, which is expected to take up its bill for the first time on Wednesday.

Some House Democrats raised concerns that the bill was too restrictive. Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, and other liberal Democrats said the bill should allow all patients with chronic pain and permit smoking, which it bans outright.

“Last time I checked, Florida was the Sunshine State not a nanny state,” Smith said. “Who are we to tell legitimate patients they cannot smoke their cannabis? That’s not our business.”

The group behind Amendment 2, which set this legislation in motion, said they do not support Rodrigues’ language.

“HB 1397 puts profits over patient access,” Florida for Care executive director Ben Pollarasaid in a statement. “It not only maintains but strengthens the cartel system of licensed marijuana growers in Florida. … Prices will be high, quality will be low and choices will be few.”

Conservative lawmakers, meanwhile said Rodrigues’ proposal puts into place something that, though approved by 71 percent of voters last November, ought not be part of state law.

“I don’t believe that medical marijuana exists. I just don’t,” said Rep. Julio Gonzalez, R-Sarasota, one of three medical doctors in the Florida House. “I’m stuck as a physician.”

He likened medical marijuana to the myth that surrounds Gasparilla.

But Rodrigues, who did not vote for Amendment 2, says the bill represents a compromise between open access for patients and the restrictions that come from cannabis being classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance by the federal government.

This may open up the market for medical weed suppositories (sarcasm).


The Keto Diaries — Quarter of the Way There and a Lit Review


Good morning, fine people!

I got some good news!

I am officially 25lbs down from my starting weight.

I’d been avoiding the scale because I was bad last week.

Tangent which inspired me to finally weigh in — I need to clean my oven, bad. And I have a self clean option on it, but I’m really concerned about something in my house heating up to 800 degrees. So I called my Nana and asked her. She said just buy a can of oven cleaner and go to town.

Ok. Makes sense.

We got to talking, and she asked, “how’s your diet going? Did you lose any more weight?”

First, I don’t consider this a diet — a diet is superficial, fleeting, and brings bad connotations. This has become a way of life for me.

I live, breathe, preach, and pray to the Gods of keto that the bacon never run out, and my coffee always be Bulletproof.

So I weighed in — at first I thought I placed my scale on a not even part of the floor, so I moved it like four times.

But it was right — 25lbs down.

I celebrated with some broccoli cooked in bacon and covered in hollandaise.

It was delicious.

When I went to share my success on my keto support group on FB, I stumbled upon this study hosted on the National Institute of Health website:



Although various studies have examined the short-term effects of a ketogenic diet in reducing weight in obese patients, its long-term effects on various physical and biochemical parameters are not known.


To determine the effects of a 24-week ketogenic diet (consisting of 30 g carbohydrate, 1 g/kg body weight protein, 20% saturated fat, and 80% polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat) in obese patients.


In the present study, 83 obese patients (39 men and 44 women) with a body mass index greater than 35 kg/m2, and high glucose and cholesterol levels were selected. The body weight, body mass index, total cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, triglycerides, fasting blood sugar, urea and creatinine levels were determined before and after the administration of the ketogenic diet. Changes in these parameters were monitored after eight, 16 and 24 weeks of treatment.


The weight and body mass index of the patients decreased significantly (P<0.0001). The level of total cholesterol decreased from week 1 to week 24. HDL cholesterol levels significantly increased, whereas LDL cholesterol levels significantly decreased after treatment. The level of triglycerides decreased significantly following 24 weeks of treatment. The level of blood glucose significantly decreased. The changes in the level of urea and creatinine were not statistically significant.


The present study shows the beneficial effects of a long-term ketogenic diet. It significantly reduced the body weight and body mass index of the patients. Furthermore, it decreased the level of triglycerides, LDL cholesterol and blood glucose, and increased the level of HDL cholesterol. Administering a ketogenic diet for a relatively longer period of time did not produce any significant side effects in the patients. Therefore, the present study confirms that it is safe to use a ketogenic diet for a longer period of time than previously demonstrated.

The body of the study goes into the methodology — and ya’ll know how I feel about that stuff — and it’s solid.

So, if you are looking to lose weight, consider keto.

Yes, you don’t eat carbs, but bacon all the time with no guilt is amazing.


The Gaslighting


I evidently was using this term wrong. I was curious of the exact meaning of the word and got sucked into several literature reviews and articles. And then stuck in old memories.

Evidently, it’s a tool of psychological warfare.

Gaslighting is a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality. It works much better than you may think. Anyone is susceptible to gaslighting, and it is a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders. It is done slowly, so the victim doesn’t realize how much they’ve been brainwashed. For example, in the movie Gaslight (1944), a man manipulates his wife to the point where she thinks she is losing her mind.

Some signs of gaslighting include:

  1. You are constantly second-guessing yourself.
  2. You ask yourself, “Am I too sensitive?” a dozen times a day.
  3. You often feel confused and even crazy at work.
  4. You’re always apologizing to your mother, father, boyfriend,, boss.
  5. You can’t understand why, with so many apparently good things in your life, you aren’t happier.
  6. You frequently make excuses for your partner’s behavior to friends and family.
  7. You find yourself withholding information from friends and family so you don’t have to explain or make excuses.
  8. You know something is terribly wrong, but you can never quite express what it is, even to yourself.
  9. You start lying to avoid the put downs and reality twists.
  10. You have trouble making simple decisions.
  11. You have the sense that you used to be a very different person – more confident, more fun-loving, more relaxed.
  12. You feel hopeless and joyless.
  13. You feel as though you can’t do anything right.
  14. You wonder if you are a “good enough” girlfriend/ wife/employee/ friend; daughter.
  15. You find yourself withholding information from friends and family so you don’t have to explain or make excuses.

Having been a victim of this type of psychological abuse is that you don’t see what is actually happening until you have distanced yourself from the person doing the abuse.

I literally did every single one of those things almost every day for almost 10 years while that person was in my life. I was terrified of being “too sensitive”, “wrong”, having to lie to cover for that person, feeling hopeless and depressed, hiding things from friends and loved ones, thinking that I’m the crazy one or I’m the bad one. Hell, I was afraid to talk to my therapist about the abuse, when the abuse was the whole reason I went into therapy. Like I said, I was the crazy one. But I was petrified to even mention that person to my therapist lest get back to him.

And on it went…

And then it stopped. And I realized I wasn’t.

I was very damn sane.

And some of the tactics used:

1. They tell blatant lies.

You know it’s an outright lie. Yet they are telling you this lie with a straight face. Why are they so blatant? Because they’re setting up a precedent. Once they tell you a huge lie, you’re not sure if anything they say is true. Keeping you unsteady and off-kilter is the goal.

2. They deny they ever said something, even though you have proof. 

You know they said they would do something; you know you heard it. But they out and out deny it. It makes you start questioning your reality—maybe they never said that thing. And the more they do this, the more you question your reality and start accepting theirs.

3. They use what is near and dear to you as ammunition. 

They know how important your kids are to you, and they know how important your identityis to you. So those may be one of the first things they attack. If you have kids, they tell you that you should not have had those children. They will tell you’d be a worthy person if only you didn’t have a long list of negative traits. They attack the foundation of your being.

4. They wear you down over time.

This is one of the insidious things about gaslighting—it is done gradually, over time. A lie here, a lie there, a snide comment every so often…and then it starts ramping up. Even the brightest, most self-aware people can be sucked into gaslighting—it is that effective. It’s the “frog in the frying pan” analogy: The heat is turned up slowly, so the frog never realizes what’s happening to it.

5. Their actions do not match their words.

When dealing with a person or entity that gaslights, look at what they are doing rather than what they are saying. What they are saying means nothing; it is just talk. What they are doing is the issue.

6. They throw in positive reinforcement to confuse you. 

This person or entity that is cutting you down, telling you that you don’t have value, is now praising you for something you did. This adds an additional sense of uneasiness. You think, “Well maybe they aren’t so bad.” Yes, they are. This is a calculated attempt to keep you off-kilter—and again, to question your reality. Also look at what you were praised for; it is probably something that served the gaslighter.

7. They know confusion weakens people. 

Gaslighters know that people like having a sense of stability and normalcy. Their goal is to uproot this and make you constantly question everything. And humans’ natural tendency is to look to the person or entity that will help you feel more stable—and that happens to be the gaslighter.

8. They project.

They are a drug user or a cheater, yet they are constantly accusing you of that. This is done so often that you start trying to defend yourself, and are distracted from the gaslighter’s own behavior.

9. They try to align people against you.

Gaslighters are masters at manipulating and finding the people they know will stand by them no matter what—and they use these people against you. They will make comments such as, “This person knows that you’re not right,” or “This person knows you’re useless too.” Keep in mind it does not mean that these people actually said these things. A gaslighter is a constant liar. When the gaslighter uses this tactic it makes you feel like you don’t know who to trust or turn to—and that leads you right back to the gaslighter. And that’s exactly what they want: Isolation gives them more control.

10. They tell you or others that you are crazy.

This is one of the most effective tools of the gaslighter, because it’s dismissive. The gaslighter knows if they question your sanity, people will not believe you when you tell them the gaslighter is abusive or out-of-control. It’s a master technique.

11. They tell you everyone else is a liar.

By telling you that everyone else (your family, the media) is a liar, it again makes you question your reality. You’ve never known someone with the audacity to do this, so they must be telling the truth, right? No. It’s a manipulation technique. It makes people turn to the gaslighter for the “correct” information—which isn’t correct information at all.

The more you are aware of these techniques, the quicker you can identify them and avoid falling into the gaslighter’s trap.


The Statistical Trust and Why Folks Should Question Everything



Math With Bad Drawings

I can manipulate data to say anything I want. So can you. So can CNN, Fox News, BBC, USA Today, CDC, NASA… etc.

And it’s not outright lying, either.

Since starting Keto, I’ve been doing a lot of medical research in my free time — about metabolic systems, cholesterol, good vs bad fat, diabetes, brain function, etc…

And all this research provides conclusions differing from long held medical and dietary beliefs. And I’ve always wondered, where does this come from? Who was the scientist/nutritionist/wizard who said dietary fat makes you fat?

I mean fat = fat. Makes sense? Yeah?

But the more research I do into the body’s metabolic pathways, and I realized how completely bad sugar is for you compared to dietary fat.

I read a really awesome article on how Keto, referred to as Very Low Carb High Fat (VLCHF) diet, actually causes you to have more good cholesterol (HDL) and decreases bad cholesterol (LDL) as well as “changing” LDL into HDL cholesterol. And I know to the lay person, the word cholesterol invokes images of crusty arteries and heart attacks, but your body needs cholesterol to make hormones.

The article gets way more sciency than I have time to go into.

But “people” say that upping fat and lowering carbs is bad.

Who are these people? The government? Your mom? Your ancient primary care doctor who hasn’t done any nutritional research since 1980?

Science proves to the contrary.

But on the topic of bullshittery, when I was in undergrad and grad school, I’d always write my papers at the 11th hour. And make A’s on them.

Because I’m awesome like that.

But I could pull the most random data from anywhere to prove my point and cite it. It could have been a study on amoebas and I could turn it into something about recidivism in adult male populations.

Well, maybe not that far fetched… but you get my drift.

I would go onto a database like Jstor, and do a search, look through abstracts and find what data I needed to prove my point. Add some fancy quotes and voila.

And because I know I’m not the only one who does this, If I see a recent scientific study, until I personally read their sample sizes, methodology, etc… I don’t trust it.

And neither should you.

I mean, people don’t have a lot of time to invest in what is “truth” and “fake truth”. The lay person probably doesn’t know how sampling methods can affect outcomes or different methods of statistical analysis that can be used to skew data. The lay person doesn’t have the time or urge to actually go out there and research.

I mean, in the age of the internet and wikipedia, people do have information on demand. But, who posts this information? What’s their agenda?

In my first research methodology class, my professor asked, “Why do murder rates and ice cream sales rise at the same time?”

Or something like that.

Two seemingly completely different things, that both saw a rise during the same time period. Are they connected? Do they have a correlation? Is it statistically significant?


Murder and ice cream have nothing to do with each other other than the rates of ice cream sales and murder rates both rise in the summer.

Magic, right?


The Curly Hair Appropriation Offense




So, I have curly hair. Like a lot of curly hair.

And I was tormented throughout middle and high school for my hair by everyone. Black, White, Hispanic, even the strangely large Hmong population.

In seventh grade, some White girl wrote in my yearbook, “GO BIG BUSH, GO!!!”

The Black girls loved to rag on my short curly hair — it was literally a past time of theirs. They would bully me incessantly, call me Big Bush, say my hair was nappy or frizzy… just it was bad. I repressed a lot of it.

Twice, I had gum or duct tape put in my hair and had to have it cut out. No. Not okay. I cried the next day when my stylist had to shave the back of my head because it was stuck in there.

Someone cut off a plait of my hair. Literally.  Like one of my curls. On the top of my head. It was an inch long. Someone also cut off one of my pig tail braids.

I cannot make this up.

My dad has curly hair, but because he’s a dude he can shave it off. Same with my brother.

My mother, however doesn’t. And mom are generally the ones tasked with doing their little girl’s hair. My mom didn’t have any experience with coarse, curly hair… so she cut it all off. I had a bowl cut for a long, long, long time.

When I started learning to do my own hair in middle school (required a lot of experimenting), I was allowed to grow my hair. And I about killed it with the flat iron and chemicals, trying to get that perfect, straight hair look that would stop the tormentors.

But nooo…

Since becoming an adult, I’ve really embraced my curly hair in various styles and lengths. I’m currently trying to grow my hair out from a pixie cut.


But, folks, evidently my hair is racist and cultural appropriation and I have to be mindful of how I wear it lest it offend someone.

I have a hard enough time managing my damn hair and now I have to worry about being racist for my hair doing whatever it wants. My hair is a honey badger. It doesn’t care about cultural norms or historical context. It does what it wants. I can only try to control it.

But everything now is “problematic”, and evidently hair is a big hot topic. Especially curly hair. I had no idea my hair was politically incorrect and problematic:

“Black Twitter” said it once, but let’s say it again: It is not cool for white women to wear black hairstyles. It is not cute. It is not flattering.

When white women wear black hairstyles, it’s a slap in the face to black women.

There are so many reasons why it’s not okay for white women to rock styles traditionally worn by black women, including Afros, braids (no, not French braids, calm down), dreadlocks, and baby hairs. Black hair is not just hair. There’s history and context tied to these styles that cannot be ignored, a historical legacy forever linked to the ongoing cultural remnants of slavery and institutional racism. A white person who wears these styles dismisses that context and turns black hair into a novelty, a parody, a subtle form of blackface.

Box braids and cornrows can be traced all the way to ancient African civilizations. The practice of loc-ing hair (which, no, doesn’t entail simply not washing the hair for several months) has religious ties to Rastafarianism.

Black women have had our hair mocked and degraded, we have been called “nappy-headed-hoes,” and we have been socialized to believe that our hair is “bad” because it is not straight. When we do rock our natural hair, it’s called unkempt and unattractive.

So, finally, no. No. When Black women straighten our hair, or dye it blonde, we’re not “appropriating white hairstyles” — it is not the same thing. The word you are looking for is assimilation. White hair is the norm. It is the default. It is the societal ideal. There are many reasons why black women today wear their hair either natural or straightened, but for the most part, the practice of straightening black hair came from a real necessity to conform and survive, and to better emulate societal beauty standards that oppress women of all races — standards that just happen to be based around white beauty.

It’s important to remember that when black women call out articles like the one featured in Allure, or criticize white women like Kylie Jenner or Rita Ora for wearing black styles, it’s not simply out of this need to deny access to something simply for the sake of it. To you, white women, it’s just a cool hairstyle. To us, it’s something we’ve fought to be able to fully embrace. There are other ways to admire or celebrate black hair without coopting it. But understand — black hair can be deeply political, deeply spiritual, and deeply personal.

And I get it. There are historical and cultural significance to Black hair. I’m not denying it. To be completely honest, I absolutely adore Black hair. Mad props to Black women who go natural. All the lengths they go through to keep their hair healthy and beautiful is amazing and astounding. I am in awe of you.

But saying that a person, because they have a specific skin color, CANNOT wear a hair style is… well… you know. And evidently, even making a hair style up and wearing it, not knowing that it holds some significance to someone about something is bad juju.


And I get it — a lot of people really identify themselves with their hair… it’s who they are and because of that it’s deeply personal to them. My hair is a very personal topic to me. I don’t like people randomly touching my hair, I only let people who have curly hair (that looks healthy) cut my hair, I’m picky about products and my routine, and I struggle so much with making my hair do what I want it to do.

And yes, I do buy my hair products from the “ethnic” hair care aisle, and I get strange looks for doing it. I love and swear by Shea Moisture products. I follow a bunch of curly hair sites and get tips and advice, regardless of if it is a site meant for “ethnic hair”.

But to have HuffPo and Buzzfeed call my hair racist because it does what it wants and I just so happen to be white person… it’s patently absurd. Then being told I have to watch how I wear my hair, or I’m racist.


I can’t win for losing. I just can’t.

But at the end of the day, wear your hair how you want to. Life’s too short to worry about this kind of crap. There’s more important stuff in life to give attention to.

Update: Did a bit more research — not just HuffPo and Buzzfeed, but there is some real vitriol and disdain for white women with curly hair out there.

Because I was born to a mom with straight hair, and had no idea how to take care of my own hair, I’ve relied on a lot of hair health tips from Black hair gurus/experts/mavens/goddesses and they are so spot on.

I mean, first white people need to be “educated” about Black hair and what is copacetic, because we are “ignorant”, but when we try to understand and appreciate, we are scolded for being in their “spaces”. And I don’t understand it. I just wanted to know how to take care of my curly hair.


Comments from the post from

I mean, I get it, hair is a tetchy subject.

But it’s like, “okay. I’m listening.”

Then I read something like this and I’m just dumbfounded.

The title of this post sums up what I’m going to write about here. Twitter is abuzz about a post on Curly Nikki, featuring a Q&A with a white woman named Sarah talking about how she has learned to embrace her curls. This seemingly innocuous post features this woman musing about how she’s learned to accept her texture, and doing everything from co-washing, hoarding products to sleeping in a satin bonnet to protect her texture.

Sounds familiar?

So a site that was started by a black woman as a guide to help other black women with natural hair or those who were transitioning to natural hair decided to once again (I’m told it’s not the first time a white woman was interviewed) feature a white woman discussing her curly hair. What’s more offensive is they didn’t even alter the questions to account for the fact that Sarah never transitioned or “went natural.” However, Curly Nikki is a lot different than what it used to be. It’s now a brand owned by TextureMedia, a company that offers “dynamic social platform that empowers & engages a multicultural community of female influencers – the largest in the world of haircare.”


Anyway, I am beyond exhausted of seeing white women propped up in spaces traditionally reserved for black women as a way to add credibility to our issues. I’m tired of seeing the use of white women employed to appeal to the masses, as this does nothing but silence and eliminate the experiences and voices of black women. I’m sick of white women coming into black women’s spaces, with what they call an attempt to learn and create solidarity, only to use their privilege to take over and ignore our plight as they work to bolster their own brand.

White women and their hair stories do not belong in spaces that cater to black women with natural hair. The term ‘natural hair’ has always been connected to black women and our hair stories, not that of white women. White women, while they can have curly hair, can not refer to their hair as natural without engaging in some form of cultural appropriation. This white woman did not start wearing her hair natural nor did she transition. She simply wore one hairstyle while growing up, and later decided she would wear her hair down. That decision by this woman featured in this blog post can NEVER compare to what black women face when we decide to transition from chemically relaxed to natural hairstyles.

The faux struggles curly-haired white women face when they “embrace their texture” is nothing like the social, political, personal and economic fallout inflicted upon black women when we shun the relaxer. Curly-haired white women don’t know what it’s like to have your boyfriend (or girlfriend) flat out say he (or she) prefers your hair to be straight (because of that whole white Eurocentric beauty brainwashing thing); when you family asks you, “You going to keep your hair like that?” Or “What do you plan to do with it?”; when white women ask you all kinds of ridiculous questions about your hair routine (because we can’t possibly use the same shampoo and conditioner as them, right?); when people are so brazen and arrogant to believe they have the right to ignore your humanity and run their grimy fingers through your coils; when your boss comes up to you and tells you how unprofessional your Afro is and that it does not belong in the workplace; when fellow black women talk about how brave you are to go natural, to embrace your kinks and wish they can do the same; when you spend hours upon hours on YouTube watching self-appointed natural hair stars demonstrate their tips on how to get the perfect twist out (because having a frizzy twist-out is not cute, apparently).

I’m sure there are some who couldn’t care less about Curly Nikki featuring this white woman in her Q&A. I know there are some of y’all who believe appropriation by white folks is flattery; that this is a nonissue and black women will find anything to be upset about. This white woman’s appropriation of the natural hair community’s terminology and framing those experiences as comparable to what she went through in her “journey” is indicative of her and Curly Nikki’s disregard for black women and our humanity. It ignores the gritty and sobering issues black women who wear natural hair face — those issues white women can bypass and brush off because they are, well, white.

Furthermore, the use of this white woman and her hair story further perpetuates the trend in natural hair circles to center experiences around women who have a looser curl pattern or, for those who are obsessed with hair typing, the 3a, 3b, 3c, etc. Black women who have tighter coils, kinks and naps — 4a, 4b, 4c, etc. for those keeping score — are constantly told through marketing campaigns that our texture is not the kind of natural hair we should embrace. It’s not a coincidence that we see an abundance of curl enhancers/definers being peddled towards black women who aren’t yet comfortable with rocking their frizzy undefined afros. Obsessed with chasing the ever-elusive curl, black women spend countless hours on YouTube and blogs such as Curly Nikki looking for ways they can make their 4z texture appear more like a woman rocking 3c curls. Some of us spend hundreds of dollars each year on hair products that promise to give us curly, defined styles. We spend hours each week twisting and stretching our hair to make sure we don’t wake up the next day looking like Don King’s shrunken down Afro. But we are supposed to look at this Q&A featuring this white woman and feel inspired to embrace our naps because her curly hair experience is just like ours!

We should not want or need white woman and their loose curl patterns in natural hair circles for black women. We should not promote white women picking and choosing which parts of blackness they can mold into their life experiences while simultaneously erasing and invalidating the lived experiences of black women who can’t leverage white privilege to make our journeys easier to navigate.

Shit I can’t make up.

To hell with it all. I’m going to wear my hair how I want to.


The Lit Review — WSJ: Woman-on-woman workplace bullying



I borrowed this WSJ article by Dr. Drexler — it is an interesting statistical analysis and break down about Queen Bee syndrome and bulling in the workplace.

The Tyranny of the Queen Bee
By Peggy Drexler, Wall Street Journal, March 1, 2013

Women who reached positions of power were supposed to be mentors to those who followed—but something is amiss in the professional sisterhood.Kelly was a bright woman in her early 30s: whip-smart, well qualified, ambitious—and confused. Even a little frightened.

She worked for a female partner in a big consulting firm. Her boss was so solicitous that Kelly hoped the woman—one of just a few top female partners—might become her mentor. But she began to feel that something was wrong. In meetings, her boss would dismiss her ideas without discussion and even cut her off in mid-sentence. Kelly started to hear about meetings to which she wasn’t invited but felt she should be. She was excluded from her boss’s small circle of confidants.

What confused Kelly was that she was otherwise doing well at the firm. She felt respected and supported by the other senior partners. She had just one problem, but it was a big one. One of the male partners pulled her aside and confirmed Kelly’s suspicions: Her boss had been suggesting to others that Kelly might be happier in a different job, one “more in line with her skills.”Tina Brown talks with Kelsey Hubbard about how she has survived and thrived through the ups and downs of her career and the importance of women friendships and how she’s managed to keep “beating” the boys at their own game.

I met Kelly while I was conducting research on women in the workplace. She was trying to puzzle through what she had done wrong and what to do about it. (To protect the privacy of Kelly and others in the study, I refer to them here by first names only.) I wasn’t sure Kelly had done anything wrong, and I said so. As I told her, “You might have met a queen bee.”

Having spent decades working in psychology, a field heavily populated by highly competitive women, I had certainly seen the queen bee before: The female boss who not only has zero interest in fostering the careers of women who aim to follow in her footsteps, but who might even actively attempt to cut them off at the pass.

The term “queen bee syndrome” was coined in the 1970s, following a study led by researchers at the University of Michigan—Graham Staines, Toby Epstein Jayaratne and Carol Tavris—who examined promotion rates and the impact of the women’s movement on the workplace. In a 1974 article in Psychology Today, they presented their findings, based on more than 20,000 responses to reader surveys in that magazine and Redbook. They found that women who achieved success in male-dominated environments were at times likely to oppose the rise of other women. This occurred, they argued, largely because the patriarchal culture of work encouraged the few women who rose to the top to become obsessed with maintaining their authority.

Four decades later, the syndrome still thrives, given new life by the mass ascent of women to management positions. This generation of queen bees is no less determined to secure their hard-won places as alpha females. Far from nurturing the growth of younger female talent, they push aside possible competitors by chipping away at their self-confidence or undermining their professional standing. It is a trend thick with irony: The very women who have complained for decades about unequal treatment now perpetuate many of the same problems by turning on their own.

A 2007 survey of 1,000 American workers released by the San Francisco-based Employment Law Alliance found that 45% of respondents had been bullied at the office—verbal abuse, job sabotage, misuse of authority, deliberate destruction of relationships—and that 40% of the reported bullies were women. In 2010, the Workplace Bullying Institute, a national education and advocacy group, reported that female bullies directed their hostilities toward other women 80% of the time—up 9% since 2007. Male bullies, by contrast, were generally equal-opportunity tormentors.

A 2011 survey of 1,000 working women by the American Management Association found that 95% of them believed they were undermined by another woman at some point in their careers. According to a 2008 University of Toronto study of nearly 1,800 U.S. employees, women working under female supervisors reported more symptoms of physical and psychological stress than did those working under male supervisors.

Something is clearly amiss in the professional sisterhood.

Erin, another participant in my own study, was a food writer at a glossy magazine. Her supervisor, Jane, seemed out to get her from day one—though never quite to her face. Jane liked playing hot and cold: One day she would pull Erin close to gossip about another colleague; the next she would scream at her for not following through on a task Erin hadn’t known she was expected to perform.

Erin eventually found out that Jane was bad-mouthing her to mutual contacts in the food and restaurant industry. Jane would casually slip barbs into business conversations, telling others, for example, that Erin had engaged in an affair with a married man (she hadn’t) or was giving more favorable reviews to restaurant owners who were her friends (she wasn’t).

Jane’s campaign against Erin wasn’t much more than mean-spirited gossiping, but Erin felt that it caused her peers to think of her differently and certainly made her professional life more difficult. But how could she lodge an official complaint? “What would it say?” Erin asked me. “Jane is talking about me behind my back?” At various points, Erin thought the only way to fight back was to play along and start trash-talking Jane. But was that really the solution?

As the old male-dominated workplace has been transformed, many have hoped that the rise of female leaders would create a softer, gentler kind of office, based on communication, team building and personal development. But instead, some women are finding their professional lives dominated by high school “mean girls” all grown up: women with something to prove and a precarious sense of security.

What makes these queen bees so effective and aggravating is that they are able to exploit female vulnerabilities that men may not see, using tactics that their male counterparts might never even notice. Like Jane’s gossiping about Erin’s personal life. Or when Kelly’s boss would comment on her outfit: “Who are you trying to impress today?” Or not-so-gently condescend: “Did you take your smart pill today, sweetie?” Their assaults harm careers and leave no fingerprints.

That is one reason many victims never see such attacks coming—and are powerless to prevent them. In Kelly’s case, she had assumed her female boss might want to help foster her growth out of some sense of female solidarity. Erin had specifically sought out working at the magazine because she admired Jane’s writing and wanted to learn from her. Why wouldn’t Jane be eager to teach? It is women, after all, who are hastening the table-pounding male bullies toward obsolescence.

But both Kelly and Erin’s superiors seem to have viewed the women under them not as comrades in arms but as threats to be countered. In a world where there are still relatively few women in positions of power—just 2% of Fortune 500 CEOs and 16% of boards of directors, as noted in Deborah Rhode and Barbara Kellerman’s book “Women and Leadership”—it is an understandable assumption that the rise of one would mean the ouster of another. One for one, instead of one plus one.

Though it is getting easier to be a professional woman, it is by no means easy. Some women—especially in industries that remain male-dominated—assume that their perches may be pulled from beneath them at any given moment (and many times, they are indeed encouraged to feel this way). Made to second-guess themselves, they try to ensure their own dominance by keeping others, especially women, down.

The result is a distinctive strain of negative leadership traits—less overtly confrontational than their domineering male counterparts but bullying just the same. Comments on appearance or dress are part of their repertoire—something that would be seen more obviously as harassment when coming from a man—as are higher, sometimes even unreasonable, expectations for performance. Women who have risen in male-dominated fields may want to tell themselves that their struggle and success were unique. As a result they sometimes treat the performance of females who follow as never quite good enough.

It cuts both ways, though: Women aren’t always the best employees to other women either. Female subordinates can show less respect and deference to female bosses than to their male bosses.

Queen bees are less overtly confrontational than their male counterparts, but they are bullies just the same.

A 2007 Syracuse University study published in the Journal of Operational and Organizational Psychology found that women are critical of female bosses who are not empathetic. They also tend to resent female bosses who adopt a brusque and assertive management style, even as they find it perfectly acceptable for male bosses. And so they question and push back, answering authority with attitude.

One woman I encountered in my research, Amanda, faced this problem when she began a new job as a vice president at a Manhattan ad agency. The role was her first in management and included overseeing three women who were her age or younger. She knew she was qualified for the position, but from the very first day, Amanda had a difficult time feeling that she had their respect, or even their attention. Though deferential and solicitous to her male colleagues, they openly questioned Amanda’s decisions. They went above her head, made comments about her wardrobe and even refused to say good morning and good night. She felt like she was back in high school, trying to break into an elite clique.

Amanda tried various tactics: being overly authoritative, being their “friend.” Eventually she stopped trying to get them to respond or encouraging them to do their jobs as directed. Instead, she fired all three.

Queen bees are creatures of circumstance, encircling potential rivals in much the same way as the immune system attacks a foreign body. Female bosses are expected to be “softer” and “gentler” simply because they are women, even though such qualities are not likely the ones that got them to where they are. In the more cutthroat precincts of American achievement, women don’t reach the top by bringing in doughnuts in the morning.
Men use fear as a tool of advancement. Why shouldn’t women do the same? Until top leadership positions are as routinely available to women as they are to men, freezing out the competition will remain a viable survival strategy.


Dr. Drexler is an assistant professor of psychology in psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College and the author, most recently, of Our Fathers, Ourselves: Daughters, Fathers and the Changing American Family.

Wall Street Journal

Source: WSJ: Woman-on-woman workplace bullying