[hackerspaces] Sex Offenders at a 'Space

matt matt at nycresistor.com
Tue Feb 10 21:45:21 CET 2015

NYC Resistor has asked people to leave the space for far less.   And, to be
fair, membership is far harder to get there than most.

I applaud you for doing some research on the crime and the nature of it
though.  Plenty of 19 year olds out there have been hit with stat rape
charges because of their 17 year old gf's dad was pissed.  Those charges
will haunt them for the rest of their lives.  It's always worth it to see
what lurks behind the stigma of a criminal label, if you can.

That being said, a hackerspace is founded fundamentally on a community of
volunteers who give back to it.  That community must thrive for the space
to succeed.  If they are uncomfortable with the risk posed by an individual
or just plain uncomfortable with that person, you should put the needs of
the community first.  That is my opinion, but it is a policy that has
served us well for 8 years.

It sucks for that person, that even after serving their time, re-entering
the world is hard.  And I think a stigma like that should be allowed to be
forgotten after a lengthy period of time if only because a person at 27 is
not the same person by any means at 37 or 47.  But, your concern is with
the space first and foremost, not the ills of the world.  Focus on doing
what you can well.

Beyond the aspects of community dynamics and trusts being of paramount

At the end of the day, that person did commit a crime.  There was a young
victim.  At 27, they had a fully formed sense of morality and a mature
mind.  They chose to break the law, and more so, chose to put the welfare
of a child at risk.  Compulsion or not, that's a gross betrayal of their
community.  And they did considerable harm.  I believe in redemption,
though I am a realist in believing that it is harder for some than others.
Giving people a chance is a good thing to do.  But that does not mean
subjecting yourself to risks through ignorance or blind optimism.  And it
certainly does not mean inviting others along for that risky endeavour
without their fully informed consent.


On Tue, Feb 10, 2015 at 3:23 PM, Steve Bowman <steve.l3o.bowman at gmail.com>

> Hi there,
> The board of our 'space has recently received a notification from a Parole
> Officer (PO) that a sex offender is interested in visiting and possibly
> joining our organization. We asked for further clarification on the crime
> and the response was as follows (some info redacted for privacy)
> In regards to the offense that he is on supervision for, it involved Mr.
>> XXX (27 years old) inappropriately touching a 13 year old female neighbor.
>> This occurred on several occasions in 2007 before he was arrested.  He is
>> required to register with the XX Sex Offender Registry Program for his
>> entire lifetime.
> Our organizational structure allows us to refuse admission to a new member
> for any reason. This option has never been exercised before.
> Based on the size of our organization, and local statistics (Sex
> offender/unit population), it's likely that we have a few sex offenders in
> our membership already - statistically at least. We haven't and do not plan
> on conducting background checks The only reason this topic is being
> discussed is since we received notification from the PO, which is legally
> required from them based on the nature and severity of crime.
> A few details specific to our organization that may be important to this
> discussion. We do not allowed members under 18. But many members bring
> their kids with them. The kids must always be supervised but, being kids,
> do get away once in a while. All members have 24/7 access to our facility
> So my question is - *have other 'spaces dealt with this situation in the
> past? If yes, how? Or if does come up, how would you deal with it in the
> future? *
> *If we do let this person in, should we notify all members? *That might
> start a witch hunt or get this person treated in a unfair manner. Unfair is
> obviously open to individual interpretations.
> I welcome and appreciate feedback from past experiences and/or personal
> opinions.
> Thanks,
> Steve
> P.S. Is there way to search this mailing list archive so I can consult
> previous discussions on this and other topics. I can download the archive
> and implement a search function but maybe there is a better way already...
> _______________________________________________
> Discuss mailing list
> Discuss at lists.hackerspaces.org
> http://lists.hackerspaces.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss
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