One of the tasks I (LT) perform annually as a progressive activist is to write lengthy holiday cards of solidarity and encouragement to wrongfully incarcerated sex offenders identified by a small almost all-volunteer organization, the National Center for Reason and Justice.
This group began in the 1990s (incorporated in 2002) following the spate of accusations about “Satanic Ritual abuse” and other aspects of an “epidemic” of child sexual abuse that resulted in the wrongful conviction and incarceration of many parents, day care providers, preschool teachers, school bus drivers, and others charged with the care of children who have presumably violated their sacred trust.
I joined as an “advisor” some years ago. There was no sexologist in the group who could provide a link to the clinical and academic sex research community and that seemed like a useful role I could play. The other advisors and directors, several of whom have written important books on the subject, are a cross section of academics, lawyers and journalists who see this as a worthy and important issue.
The discipline of writing these cards (23 this year) is very painful for me. Each year after I started in 2008, I would receive replies from about a third of the prisoners, so by this time I have quite a stack of handwritten and typed letters and cards detailing the suffering and courage of these men and women who are facing years and decades and maybe a lifetime of unjust imprisonment. Year after year they pursue legal remedies, self-maintenance and try to stay focussed and sane. It tears at your heart and I weep a lot.
This past year, one of those day care workers, Bernard “Bee” Baran, unjustly convicted and incarcerated in 1984 and finally released in 2006, died at the age of 49 http://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/ci_26460338/bernard-baran-cleared-child-molestation-charges-dead-at. He is a martyr to the craziness and cruelty of the criminal justice system.
What does this have to do with “Selling Sickness”? Good intentions undermined by lack of oversight? Social institutions perverted by misguided politics? Lives destroyed in the absence of evidence? Overzealous “experts”? Maybe the only connections are in my mind. Meanwhile, I still have a half dozen of these cards of consolation and encouragement to write.