First up: New York’s eSTOP Act. I blogged about this a couple weeks ago when the bill was introduced. Aside from the glaringly obvious issues of enforcement, the bill seems to at least have a good idea at heart. On Tuesday, it passed the state Senate. It now moves on to the General Assembly and is expected to pass. You can read the AP article here: Bill requires sex offenders to register online identities.
Next in Kentucky, Mike Petchenik at WLKY did a great story on the lack of proper laws in the state to punish captured online predators. As one cop in his story said, “If I had a webcam and I showed myself masturbating to a little girl, in Kentucky that’s not against the law. It’s a Class A misdemeanor, which we can’t do anything about. It’s just a misdemeanor. In Florida, it’s three years to serve in prison.” [Watch the video here: Kentucky Lacks Laws To Punish Predators]
As a result of loopholes like this, lots of predators are targeting kids in KY cause they know they can get away with it.
Now, in addition to that, in his report, Mike mentions a cyber stalking bill, which is actually House Bill 367. I wrote to Mike and he told me that the bill actually passed committee the following day and will now go before the full house. That is great news! Incorporated into this bill are not only the provisions to prosecute for cyber stalking, but also soliciting a minor.
You can find out more about House Bill 367 in this piece by WAVE 3 (Louisville) Investigative reporter, Janelle MacDonald: Conway proposes sweeping changes to deal with Internet predators.
The final state in my trio of reports today is Alabama. Apparently, they suffer they same law-deficiencies as Kentucky. It is actually OK for an Internet sicko to solicit someone they think is a minor IF the ‘minor’ turns out to be a cop. Let me clarify: according to this OP-ED article (Closing predators’ loophole):
In Alabama, Attorney General Troy King says a loophole in state law seriously limits what prosecutors can do with an offender like those uncovered in the “Dateline” stings.
The Gulf Shores Police Department has focused on using the Internet to lure sexual predators but because it uses decoys to do so, rather than exposing a minor to a potential molester, the cases could be in jeopardy.
Baldwin County District Attorney Judy Newcomb said 30 Gulf Shores cases were dropped to lesser charges last year because judges found that the suspects had to have solicited an actual child to be charged with using a computer to solicit a child, which is a Class B felony that can send someone to prison for up to 20 years.
A bill is working its way through the legislature now with specific language that states: “The fact that an undercover operative or law enforcement officer was involved in the detection and investigation of an offense under this section shall not constitute a defense to a prosecution under this section.” The bill would establish that “the crime may be committed if the defendant believes the person being solicited is a child.”
Apparently the same bill was introduced last year, passed the house and then stalled in the Senate. Ummmm… Why?!
Forget about dealing with social networks and trying to get scumbags to be honest – at least when they are caught for the crime – don’t let the law let them get away!
While the issue and question of “entrapment” comes up… ummm… how much do you REALLY want to protect and excuse these prevos that are trying to have conversations like the ones they have with people they believe are underage girls and boys. What if it was your kid?
So, parents, once again, while the states try to protect your kids, there is still a lot of ground to cover. Don’t fall victim to false hope and forthcoming regulations – protect your own kids! Monitor their computer activity with software like PC Pandora version 5.0… For less than the cost of the flowers you bought/received for Valentine’s Day today, you could have peace of mind in your child’s Internet activity.
Love and safe surfing to all…