Ithaca College  »  FLEFF  »  Blogs  »  Deindustrialized Spaces  » 

Blogs

FLEFF
Next » « Previous

Posted by Thomas Shevory at 8:43PM   |  14 comments
Barbed Wire

Thomas Shevory, Ithaca College

It’s hard for me to believe that, after more than 10 years, Nushawn Williams can still generate the kinds of passions that he does.  But if you have any doubts, check out the comments on a Jamestown Post-Journal article about the Williams case.  For other evidence, you can simply look at the fact that the New York State Attorney General’s Office intervened in order to see that he was kept locked up, even after he had served his complete 12 year sentence.   They did this by appealing to the New York State Civil Confinement Law.

Civil confinement laws have been passed by a number of states in reaction to high profile child molestation cases.  Legislators were motivated by the argument, no doubt holding some merit, that some sex offenders are not ordinary criminals, and that they need treatment, rather than just incarceration. But, if child molesters and serial rapists provided the rationale for these statues, they have drastically expanded beyond that reach.

In New York State now, anyone that commits a felony sex crime is eligible for a lifetime of civil confinement.  But eligibility does not mean confinement, and the state seeks confinement for only 10% of those convicted.  Such discretion leaves open the potential for arbitrariness, and the possibility, even likelihood, that those cases that have generated intense media exposure will most likely be pursued.  Criminal notoriety, however, is not synonymous with mental abnormality, the criterion that is supposed to determine such considerations.

Nushawn Williams, it should be noted, was not convicted of transmitting HIV.  New York did not, and does not, have an HIV criminal transmission statute.  He pled guilty to “reckless endangerment,” essentially endangering his partners with infection while HIV positive. (I intend to post a future blog about this aspect of his case.) His sex crimes, on the other hand, involved having consensual sex, when he was 18, with several underage girls.

One of the girls was 13, one 15, and one 17.  He had been clearly quite promiscuous in Jamestown, and he did not know the identities of the girls that accused him, but pled guilty to the charges on his lawyer’s advice.  That one was 13 is often given as evidence of his depravity.  But recently, the identities of the girls were inadvertently made public, and Nushawn was surprised to see the name of the 13 year old accuser.  Because, according to him, he hadn’t known her.

I would not attempt to defend  Nushawn Williams' activities when he was living in Jamestown, selling drugs, partying, and sleeping with many young women.  But in comparison to the crimes committed by any number of Catholic priests, some of whom have never been prosecuted, Nushawn’s seem less than spectacular.  He did not, after all, force himself on anyone.  Moreover, no one, including the state’s psychiatrist, suggests that he is a pedophile. 

The question is not whether he did bad things, or even whether he should have been sent to prison, but whether he deserves a life of confinement for having sex with underage girls while he was a teenager himself. Because that is the state’s position.

 

 


14 Comments

Although Nushawn Williams intentionally had sex with underage girls knowing he was HIV positive, I do not believe this qualifies him for a lifetime sentence in civil confinement. These actions do not fit the description of a mentally abnormal criminal, especially someone at the age of 18. The publicity he is getting is blowing his case out of proportion, providing viewers all over the area with details of his case. With this increase in exhibition of his case he is assured a position in civil confinement, while other less publicly known cases fall under the 90% who avoid a lifetime of confinement under state law.

Although Nushawn Williams intentionally had sex with underage girls and was aware of his HIV results, I do not believe this deserves a lifetime of civil confinement. These actions do not fit the description of a mentally abnormal criminal, especially for someone at the age of 18. The publicity he is getting is blowing his case out of proportion and is providing viewers from all over with details of his case. The exhibition of his case assures him a lifetime sentence in civil confinement, while other less publicly known cases fall under the 90% who avoid this lifetime confinement under state law.

After reading these blog posts on the Nushawn Williams' case, I first must agree with Dakota Eckenroth, who posted below on the first part of this blog. I, too, am slightly skeptical to let myself give in so easily to the plight of this young man, for the author of this particular story is a friend of Williams and this may have an effect on his ability to write objectively without any bias. Yet, like Eckenroth, I am willing to look past this and also find this situation unfair.
Nushawn served his time, so shouldn't he be let out? The new law that says "anyone that commits a felony sex crime is eligible for a lifetime of civil confinement" can make sense for specific cases, yet I do not think this one fits the glove. Based on the article, it seemed as if he was not charged for having "consensual sex, when he was 18, with several underage girls"; instead, he "pled guilty to "reckless endangerment," essentially endangering his partners with infection while HIV positive". I can see how this would be a problem if he knew he was HIV positive and still decided to be promiscuous, but his 12 year jail sentence is up so he should be let out.
I agree with the author that there are multiple other crimes committed by other sex offenders who have never been prosecuted, and in comparison to Williams' crime, life confinement for this 18 year old boy who does not have a mental illness and who did not force himself upon anyone is ridiculous. In my opinion, more research should be done on the involvement of the teenage girls, and more reasoning should be done with the state.

After reading these blog posts on the Nushawn Williams' case, I first must agree with Dakota Eckenrota, who posted below on the first part of this blog. I, too, am slightly skeptical to let myself give in so easily to the plight of this young man, for the author of this particular story is a friend of Williams and this may have an effect on his ability to write objectively without any bias. Yet, like Eckenroth, I am willing to look past this and also find this situation unfair.
Nushawn served his time, so shouldn't he be let out? The new law that says "anyone that commits a felony sex crime is eligible for a lifetime of civil confinement" can make sense for specific cases, yet I do not think this one fits the glove. Based on the article, it seemed as if he was not charged for having "consensual sex, when he was 18, with several underage girls"; instead, he "pled guilty to "reckless endangerment," essentially endangering his partners with infection while HIV positive". I can see how this would be a problem if he knew he was HIV positive and still decided to be promiscuous, but his 12 year jail sentence is up so he should be let out.
I agree with the author that there are multiple other crimes committed by other sex offenders who have never been prosecuted, and in comparison to Williams' crime, life confinement for this 18 year old boy who does not have a mental illness and who did not force himself upon anyone is ridiculous. In my opinion, more research should be done on the involvement of the teenage girls, and more reasoning should be done with the state.

I fully agree that consensual underage sex is a issue that should be approached lightly and that better care and support by parents, schools and state officials is the way to go. For specific cases where prosecution is necessary, penalties for consensual underage sex should be made less harsh than consensual sex between an adult and a minor because in my opinion it is not the same thing. My only question is does a person that is 18 who has sex with a person that is 16 or 17 be confined for the rest of their life even though they had consent from their sexual partner?

I believe that rapists, pedophiles, and molesters all deserve the highest possible criminal punishment for their heinous crimes because they take away the innocence of every victim they affect, but when their sentence has been served the criminal should be released.
In the case of Nushawn Williams, i believe he should have gotten lesser sentence because all of his intercourse was consensual and they were all teenagers at the time. Had he forced himself upon these girls or was in his mid twenties, the story would be completely different. At what point do the girls' judgement and decisions come into play with the criminal punishment of their consensual lover? And why not then have the punishment become mutual? It does take two to have consensual sexual intercourse. The thing that has me most dumb-founded about the case of Nushawn Williams is the fact that after spending half of his life in prison for some mistakes he did when he was a teenager and completing is sentence in jail, New York still hasn't released him. If it were up to me the mistakes of this particular individual should not continue to ruin his life after he served his sentence, and he would be released immediately.

This case makes me furious. Williams, though his actions under the law were illegal, were consensual. If these are not charges of rape or molestation, then what are they? Rather than confining and treating actual pedophiles and rapists, the State is wasting our tax money and space for a true criminal on Williams. His only crime in my opinion was being caught behaving like a stereotypical, irresponsible teenaged boy.

There is no denying that consensual underage sex is a serious matter. But in my opinion that is a topic meant to be taught to children not by the State, but by parents. Williams is not a criminal in the respect that he is not a rapist, a pedophile, or "attempting murder" through the spread of HIV. We are talking about a teenaged boy who made irrational, very 'teenaged-like' decisions. This was an eighteen year old with a thirteen year old...a five year age difference. This wouldn't be an issue if it was a thirty and a thirty-five year old. Williams has no signs of mental illness, or of repeating his actions. Why waste our tax money and space in already tightly filled prison on a person who's crimes are minimal compared to actual rapists and murderers.

These subjects are always touchy but like most normal individuals I do believe that rapists, and pedophiles should definitely feel the extent of the law. When it comes to kids having consensual sex, Its consensual. We are blasted with images related to sex hundreds of times a day, you canít just throw an age limit onto something as random as sex because different people view it so differently and so much more personally.
I donít believe that he should have been charged with reckless endangerment. That is something that should be done when you hit someone in a car accident drunk. Millions of people are affected with some type of STD and people have sex all the time because itís not like holding up a gun to someoneís head and pulling the trigger. Itís not the funniest thing to think about no, but everyone has a right to privacy.

An interesting question that this case raises is the ability of a state to hold criminals in jail beyond their original sentences. When one is convicted of a crime and sent to jail, is it unreasonable to expect to be released once oneís sentence is served? Is there something wrong with the execution of trials in the first place? Although the idea that keeping sex offenders in jail is what is best for the safety of society, the constitutionality of laws like the Civil Confinement Statute that allow for extended sentences is highly suspicious. They seem to me like a form of double jeopardy and an excessive use of power.
Allowing the NY criminal justice system to hold a criminal like Williams in jail beyond his sentence without any new charges is ridiculous.

I think it is ridiculous to punish some one and outwardly humiliate them the rest of their lives. I think this system needs to change. I think there needs to be more emphasis on getting phycological help to child molesters instead of persecuting them their entire lives. We need to exclude teenagers from this law because it is asinine to convict a teenager of rape just because the other person was a couple years younger, perhaps 16, and the other 19. I have countless stories about this.

THis would make a good documentary subject, if it has not been made already. Interview sex offenders who have been committed of a crime when they were a teenager themselves. Perhaps this would urge politicians to change the law.

I feel that because Williams' actions with the underage girls were consensual, and he was a teenager himself, he should not have been punished to the extent that he was. In my opinion it is wrong to have sex with someone as young as 13, but if she agreed there isn't a lot anyone can do about it. If he had raped her or been considerably older, there would be more of an issue.

I agree, Williams does not deserve to have a life sentince for a few young girls back when he himself was a young boy. NY has no evidence of Williams spreading the HIV virus and it is unfair to assume just because he has AIDs he spread it across the county. Yes he was a sex offender but he has served his sentence and should be alowed a proper un-bias hearing.

Nushawn Williams is a danger to society. If he knows he has a deadly disease and continues to have unprotected sex with women (especially if he doesn't tell them beforehand, he should be thrown in jail for life. If he plans on continuing having unprotected sex (putting women in deadly danger), he needs to be locked away.



Next » « Previous

You can follow posts to this blog using the RSS 2.0 feed .

You can see all of the tags in this blog in the tag cloud.

This blog is powered by the Ithaca College Web Profile Manager.

Archives

more...