[hackerspaces] Sex Offenders at a 'Space

Edward L Platt ed at elplatt.com
Tue Feb 10 22:08:45 CET 2015

I've run into this situation, and there are a lot of things that you have
to take into consideration:

Is your space a private club, or a public resource? The available and
appropriate responses are very different. This is something public
libraries have dealt with many times. In the US, courts have found that
blanket bans on sex offenders are unconstitutional:

Here is a group that works to prevent child sexual abuse in churches, and a
presentation they gave at MIT's Surveillance Co-Design Studio:

One important point they make is that most child abuse is perpetrated by
offenders who have never been caught. If your goal is to keep kids in your
space safe, banning former sex offenders is not enough, and not even the
first thing you should be thinking about. It should be a higher priority to
make sure that children are always supervised by a trusted adult, which it
sounds like you're doing already.

Similarly, one of the most effective things you can do is set clear
behavioral expectations for everyone. Codes of conduct, posted prominently,
and easy to use channels for expressing complaints and concerns go a long
way towards helping members police their own behavior.

Hope that helps.

Happy hacking,

On Tue, Feb 10, 2015 at 3:53 PM, justin corwin <outlawpoet at gmail.com> wrote:

> I would be inclined to put the issue to a vote of the full membership
> (myself voting no), without any identifying information as to the
> prospective member, specifying options (refuse entry, accept with id,
> accept anonymous). We have enough churn of basic members in and out that if
> the vote was positive, they could plausibly join later without necessarily
> identified as a sex offender if the vote supported anonymity.
> That said, given that we currently allow any member to hold up full
> membership and require three explicit votes in favor, such a person would
> be vanishingly unlikely to become a full member of the space.
> On Tue, Feb 10, 2015 at 12:46 PM, John Craver <jcraver at shaw.ca> wrote:
>> The board of your space should be looking out for the interests of your
>> organization first and foremost.  If you and your organization's members
>> are comfortable with Mr. XXX being in the space, great.  If not, then
>> don't.  Although openness is a common theme in spaces, you don't owe
>> anything to Mr. XXX or his parole officer, you owe it to your organization
>> to facilitate an environment where members can feel safe.  Given the man's
>> history, I think it would be downright negligent on your part to
>> *knowingly* allow him or any other sex offender to be in the same place as
>> where some members bring children.
>> ------------------------------
>> *From: *"Steve Bowman" <steve.l3o.bowman at gmail.com>
>> *To: *discuss at lists.hackerspaces.org
>> *Sent: *Tuesday, February 10, 2015 12:23:01 PM
>> *Subject: *[hackerspaces] Sex Offenders at a 'Space
>> 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...
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> --
> Justin Corwin
> outlawpoet at gmail.com
> http://programmaticconquest.tumblr.com
> http://outlawpoet.tumblr.com
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Edward L. Platt
@elplatt <http://twitter.com/elplatt>

This electronic mail message was sent from my desktop personal computer.
Please forgive any long-winded, overly-prosaic ramblings.
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