National Victim Rights Week

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Today National Victim’s Rights Week was acknowledged on the West Steps of the State Capitol in Sacramento. Crime Victims United sponsored an event, so there were plenty of speeches and participating politicians included Governor Jerry Brown. However, it was the victims and murder victim family members who really stood out because each and every one interrupted their lives in order to take a stand for victim’s rights, acknowledge their lost loved ones, and lobby their legislators for effective public safety policy and legislation.

Victims Prayer

Victims Prayer

The importance of being personally involved in the political process cannot be overstated. I’ve been doing it since 1993, when my daughter was murdered by a violent offender with an extensive criminal history. In those days, there were very few legislative fall back positions for children who were being victimized. Call me a cynic, but I truly believe that was because kids don’t vote and politicians don’t have to look them in the eye. Therefore they didn’t have a real voice.

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Things have changed enormously since then as the result of a series of tragic crimes and effective children’s advocates. We have Amber Alerts, Megan’s Law, law enforcement missing child protocols, and greater awareness and education surrounding child safety and child welfare issues.

Crime Victim's Harriet Salarno, Lexie Ashford, and Nina Salarno-Ashford

Crime Victim’s Harriet Salarno, Lexie Ashford, and Nina Salarno-Ashford

When I refer to being involved in the political process I’m not talking about the process as practiced in the houses of government that results in political perp walks on the 11:00 p.m. News. I don’t mean politicians like U.S. Congressman Mark Foley who left Washington D.C. in disgrace after he was found soliciting young boys serving as Congressional pages. I don’t mean pious hypocrites like Leland Yee, who I saw walking the halls of California’s Capitol on the day he got arrested, however I don’t think he’d been arrested yet because he wasn’t wearing handcuffs. I don’t mean corrupt politicians like state Senator’s Ronald Calderon and Roderick Wright who yesterday joined Yee in having their names and online archives disappear from the Senate website yesterday.

Sweet Polly...Never Forgotten!

Sweet Polly…Never Forgotten!

In 1995, I joined Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a coalition of prosecutors, police chiefs and crime victims lobbying for prevention funding for at-risk children. In 1995 the federal government was funding quality pre-school and after school activities for 10,000 children, but today, in large part because of people like you and me who became personally involved in the political process that number has grown to 1,000,000.

John

John

I don’t mean the ideological political process that paralyzes legislative bodies throughout the United States. People have differences, but can usually find common ground on the issues that are important to us, particularly if those issues regard the well-being of our kids. However, ideological politics has paralyzed the legislative process so that nothing meaningful ever gets done.

With 3-Strikes guru Mike Reynolds

With 3-Strikes guru Mike Reynolds

Let me give you an example that perfectly illustrates how popular and common sense policy concepts that cannot get a vote in the legislature can become law when people become involved. In 2011 I spent a lot of time here at the Capitol with Chris Kelly, Suzanne DiNubile and others lobbying for legislation requiring registered sex offenders to include Internet identifiers like email address and social networking handles. We watched as two separate bills died in committee. In 2012 that concept became an integral component of Prop. 35. Under Daphne Phung’s vision and leadership Prop. 35 passed by the widest margin of any initiative in California history with more than 81% of the vote.

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Today I went to the Capitol because National Victim’s Rights week is April 6-12. It represents an opportunity for people like me to remind our elected officials what’s really important. I’ve always felt that their primary duty is public safety, but the isolation and insulation of this building confuses them and sometimes they need to be reminded what is important and who they serve.

No more victims

No more victims

Right now there is a disturbing trend in the Capitol that is putting us all at risk. Many of the accomplishments that cut California’s crime rate in half 20-years ago is being undone by the legislators in this very building. Governor Brown’s realignment policy has dumped tens of thousands of violent criminals onto our streets. The repeal of 3-strikes will allow thousands of lifers to go free. Failure to enforce Jessica’s Law has allowed an untold number of registered sex offenders to abscond. A law written by Senator Lee will allow remorseless killers to be released back into society, and finally Governor Brown’s decision to parole more than twice as many lifers than his three predecessors combined.

Color Guard

Without people like us making our views known to our elected officials we will find ourselves in dire straits. Because we live in dynamic communities that change and evolve and sometimes can be hazardous, while they live in marble lined halls where your hands don’t get dirty and your farts don’t smell. Sometimes they just need to be reminded that people matter, that showing the courage to do the right thing is more important than toeing the line for rigid ideology, or making decisions based on personal gain.

Proposition 35 and Human Sex Traffickers

Murdered Pimp Calvin Sneed

The crosshairs of Proposition 35 are correctly focused on human traffickers, otherwise known as pimps. Until we acknowledge that domestic sex traffic is America’s new dirty little secret, countless American children will continue to be exploited by the cruel manipulations of pimps. To date, these sex traffickers have been given a free pass, if not outright encouragement, to engage in the most exploitive of criminal behavior.

 

In the United States we have it backward. The girls involved in underage prostitution are often portrayed as criminals, drug addled crack whores who are incarcerated rather than assisted once law enforcement brings them in off of the street. On the other hand the pimp culture is glamorized through the music and video industry. We create pimp celebrities and legitimize them in mainstream media. We celebrate their exploits as media covers Players Balls that glorify the pimp lifestyle. Pimps are human traffickers and human traffickers are heinous criminals.

 

Pimping involves a complex relationship between a male pimp and one or more women and/or girls. The pimp wields complete control and induces commercial sex acts in order to make money. The pimp attains total control and obedience through intense manipulation that begins during the grooming process. Manipulations include feigned affection, brutal violence, and verbal, psychological, and/or emotional abuse. This breaking-down phase takes a girl from healthy adolescent sexual boundaries to commercial sex with strangers. This process has been widely-documented and replicated by pimps nationwide. In the trafficking paradigm, this process involves force, fraud, and coercion.  Seasoning often involves:

  • Beating/Slapping/Whipping; with hands, fists, and kicking, as well as with objects such as bats, tools, chains, and cords;
  • Burning; of personal items to foster hopelessness and demoralization or directly burning women and girls using cigarette/cigar butts;
  • Sexual assault; rape or gang rape;
  • Confinement; lock women and girls in closets, trunks of cars, or rooms for indeterminate amounts of time;
  • Other torture techniques; such as food or water deprivation, or various forms of bondage such as chaining individuals to items or tying them up;
  • Emotional abuse; direct verbal insults, name-calling, threats, mind control, brainwashing, cognitive re-programming;
  • Re-naming; offering “nicknames” both for endearment and to erase former identity;
  • Creating dependencies; by instructing how to walk, how to talk, what to wear, when to eat, when to sleep, and where to sleep;
  • Removal from familiarity and support structures; by transporting a woman or minor to a new location where she knows no one;
  • Document confiscation; of identification documents (ID, birth certificate, SS number);
  • Forced sexual education; inducement of viewing pornography to learn to have sex.

Advertising the Players Ball

It is well-documented that pimps establish mandatory monetary quotas that typically range from $500 – $1,000. The women and girls under their control must fulfill their quota in order to end each night of commercial sex. Quotas are strictly enforced, and the punishment for failing to meet a quota is severe physical retaliation from the pimp. In pimp-controlled situations, the women and girls keep zero of this money and turn 100-percent of the profits over to the pimp. Pimp-controlled commercial sexual exploitation of children is linked to escort and massage services, private dancing, drink and photographic clubs, major sporting and recreational events, major cultural events, conventions and tourist destination.

Right now “It’s Not So Hard Out There For A Pimp”, but it will be as soon as we pass Proposition 35.