A couple of years ago the Federal marshals who were responsible for escorting me to and from court in Boise, Idaho, searched the jail cell I was in and found a document about Jewish child sex laws in the Talmud. Though the document was part of my case (and in an envelope marked clearly as «confidential legal material») and contained nothing «pornographic» at all (it was strictly a discussion of historical law), apparently the title of the document alone was enough for them to confescate it as «child pornography» (see: "Child Porn" Found In My Cell). And now, here in USP Terre Haute, Indiana (Federal «Death Row») the guards have again prejudicially found so-called «child pornography» in my cell, only this time they want to severely discipline me for having it, in order to «teach me a lesson». The only problem is that like last time (and times before when I was in state prison as a «child rapist») the material they found does not even come close to being «child pornography» by any standard, legal or otherwise. It is only «porn» in the minds of those who accuse me, and then only because of what THEY imagine it represents to me, not because of what it IS. And, like all the times before, and regardless of what the material may actually be, a record is being established that indicates (falsely) that I have a habit of collecting child pornography, even while I'm incarcerated. It's a perfect example of a self-fulfilling criminal profile.
In the case at hand, my girlfriend has sent me a few pictures that she printed from the Vogue Paris Website of a beautiful and famous child model named Thylane Blondeau. My girlfriend prints pictures for me in almost every letter of stuff she finds interesting and/or related to what she is discussing in her letter. She normally does not send pictures of children, and I have never asked her to do so. But, in this case the «determined» look on Thylane Blondeau's face caught my girlfriend's interest. So, she sent several images of Blondeau famously dressed, made-up, and posing as an adult for various advertisements. In every photograph Blondeau did indeed have a very stern and «determined» expression. But, none of the images were pornographic, unless you think a shirtless prepubescent girl (with no breasts or even hint thereof) is pornography. It just so happened that one of the images showed Blondeau posing with no shirt, and that was the image that the «correctional staff» here in Terre Haute thought «appears to be child pornography».
You have to remember that this picture was sent to me through the mail. So it was opened and inspected by the mailroom before it was issued to me. I had no reason in the world to think anything was «wrong» with it. In fact, I have seen far more arousing pictures of children in popular magazines like Reader's Digest, or National Geographic. And if I do find a picture of a child particularly arousing then I get rid of it. I don't keep pictures of children in my cell for sexual reasons and I never have (despite my «criminal profile»). So, you can imagine how flabbergasted I was when I found out that once again I was being accused of having child porn in my cell. And it doesn't matter if I am «found guilty» or not, because the «record» has been established and even if somewhere down the line someone officially admits that a «mistake» was made and the picture isn't child pornography after all, this «disposition» will be burried and effectively lost beneath the initial accusation. So, there's nothing I can do now except try to avoid the disciplinary repercussions.
Because of the «seriousness» of my offense, the «Unit Team» referred the incident report (informally called a «shot» around here) to the «DHO» (Disciplinary Hearing Officer) with an explicit recommendation that I lose all my «privileges» in order to «deter any futher violations of this nature». Never mind that this is the first «shot» of any kind I've gotten in Federal prison, and never mind that it was only one picture that according to B.O.P. policy and Federal Law isn't even close to being «pornographic» much less «child pornography». Apparently, the accusation alone is what makes the «offense» so «serious».
I prepared a written two-page statement in my defense that explains why I had no reason to think the image was «unauthorized». Along with this statement I included copies of B.O.P. Policy («Program Statement Inmate Correspondence») and Federal Law (18 USC 2256) that clearly defines «child pornography». I also made some copies of pictures of children in magazines and other materials (books and letters) issued to me through the mailroom that might «appear» to be child pornography (if you consider bare-chested little girls and naked baby butts pornographic) but, of course, are not. My hope here is to establish a pattern of what I have been «authorized» to have in the past (so they can't say I received the picture in the mail by mistake and should have «reported it» or something).
I don't know when I will see the «DHO» for the final disposition. But, my written statement with all the supporting documents has been submitted, so they should have no excuse to find me «guilty» of anything. They may decide that this image of Thylane Blondeau is «inappropriate» for «security» reasons (and even that would be a stretch), but that still doesn't make it «child pornography», nor does it make me a culprit. In fact, the «shot» alone, because of what it implies I am guilty of, is more of a «threat to institutional security» than the picture itself could ever have been. The only threats and abuse I have received since I've been in Federal custody have all come from staff, not other prisoners at all. And a «shot» like this only reinforces prison staff's reasons for threatening and harassing me, regardless of what the picture itself is or isn't.
So, we'll see what happens. I may still be «found guilty» simply because of what I'm on «Death Row» for. But, if I am found guilty it won't be because I am guilty of anything, except being a «sex offender».