Connecticut’s new (kid) governor promotes animal advocacy

This vintage typwriter is our featured image.

I know I’ve said it before — and I’ll probably say it again. This is one of the coolest, most awesome stories I’ve come across in a long time. And this time I mean it. Really.

Eli, the In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

Apparently, Connecticut school kids recently “elected” a new governor. Or more accurately, a new “Kid Governor.” Her name is Jessica Brocksom and she’s in fifth grade.

According to published reports, the John F. Kennedy Elementary School student is the second Kid Governor elected as part of the Connecticut Public Affairs Network’s Kid Governor program.

Brocksom “defeated” six other students from Connecticut schools who submitted campaign videos this year. She secured the victory by capturing most of the 4,000 votes cast by fifth-graders from more than 40 towns.

As one Connecticut TV station reported, the key to Brocksom’s success was a timely and appealing platform.

“I just chose something that I felt very passionate about and I knew animals was one of my things because not many people pay attention to animals,” Brocksom informed the media during her first “post-election” news conference.

Among other things, Brocksom feels strongly about harsher punishments for those convicted of animal abuse.

As the newly elected Kid Governor, Brocksom will share her passion for animal advocacy with her peers beginning after her “inauguration” in January. Specifically, she will share ideas about how kids can get involved in activities to help unwanted and abused animals.

“You can just have a bin and have it like a food drive once or twice a year and you can donate a lot to an animal shelter to help with the animals that have been abused,” said Brocksom.

Organizers said the Connecticut Public Affairs Network created the Kid Governor program in order to “teach kids about civics and state government, but also about civic participation.”

Based on this year’s outcome, I’d say the program’s definitely a success. Congratulations, Jessica. And best of luck in the future. I’d say it’s looking pretty bright.

Passport, please: convicted sex offenders fight tougher travel rules

This vintage typwriter is our featured image.

I rarely read The Wall Street Journal, but every so often, I come across interesting articles there during my endless search for new stuff to write about. Last week I found an intriguing piece about a controversial law called the International Megan’s Law to Prevent Demand for Child Sex Trafficking.

From what I understand, the law allows the government to issue modified passports for people convicted of certain sex offenses involving children and adolescents. Specifically, the essential travel documents issued under the law include some sort of symbol identifying the holder as a sex offender.

Pros and Cons

Those who like the idea say it can help combat the worldwide exploitation of  children. Specifically, they say the use of a passport mark promotes awareness and communication between authorities in different countries. If nothing else,  it is a simple and effective way to let them know when people who have engaged in criminal activity with minors are entering and leaving their countries, proponents claim.

On the other hand, opponents say the law is unfair. They claim it makes life even more difficult for people who already face hardship resulting from their inclusion on sex offender registries. They argue that it wrongly targets some people found guilty of relatively minor transgressions. Some even question whether or not the law is constitutional, and a federal suit has already been filed in California.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the suit is the first of its kind. I’m sure it won’t be the last.

Cry Me a River

For what it’s worth, here’s my take on the issue. I am a firm believer in the old saying, if you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime. And nothing bothers me more than a criminal with entitlement issues.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

I don’t care if you’ve been convicted for something as simple as sharing inappropriate photos on your cell phone or social media and I have no sympathy whatsoever if you’ve engaged in something as reprehensible as child molestation or abuse. There is simply no excuse for any kind of criminal activity involving or targeting minors.

As far as I’m concerned, the second you decide to target, prey upon, and exploit someone else, especially someone vulnerable, someone who can’t fight back or defend themselves, you’ve lost whatever right to “fair treatment” that you think you’re entitled to.

So if you’re worried about being branded as a sex offender and you don’t think that having a symbol on your passport identifying you as one is “fair,” here’s a tip: don’t break the law. It’s that simple.

 

Act would allow critters to comfort kids in court

This vintage typwriter is our featured image.
Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

If a proposed amendment currently wending its way through Connecticut’s legislative process doesn’t receive sweeping approval, it will simply reinforce what a lot of us already think about most politicians: that they are heartless (expletives deleted) without an ounce of compassion.

The act in question would “allow the use of therapy animals to provide comfort to children who are testifying in a criminal prosecution” of cases in which they have been assaulted, sexually assaulted or abused.  As presented it would apply only to children age 12 and younger.

If the change is actually made, “a volunteer team consisting of a therapy animal and a registered handler” as defined by law will be among the select group of people permitted to remain in the room while the child is testifying. The new rule, which would take effect this October, would also allow the therapy animal and handler to sit near the child as long as they didn’t block the view of the defendant or judge.

To me this is a “no-brainer.” A courtroom can be a big, scary, intimidating place — even for an adult. The possibility of testifying about a traumatic experience can be daunting for adults … just imagine how frightening it is for kids. Honestly. How would you feel if you were just a little kid who had been raped or molested or beaten and then you had to face that person in court?

Now think about how you’d feel if you were a little kid in that situation and you had a therapy animal (most likely a dog) that you really liked and felt safe with close by.

It’s a proven fact that interacting with animals helps people relax. It’s also a proven fact that therapy animals can help children cope with and overcome tremendous obstacles.

I should know. It’s something I’ve witnessed personally while volunteering at therapeutic horseback riding programs in Connecticut and Virginia. Kids who were grumpy when they arrived were happier by the time they left. Kids who had a hard time expressing themselves at home or in school mastered the verbal signals needed to control their ponies.

Of course that’s not to say that therapy horses belong in Connecticut courtrooms. But there’s absolutely no reason whatsoever why dogs and other small therapy animals shouldn’t be allowed to do what they are so adept at — providing love and reassurance when it’s needed most.