Stop publishing writings from prisoner

Guest Commentary

After reading the most recent column from convicted child molester Joseph Urbaniak in Q-Notes, I felt compelled to voice my concerns to the editors. I have been a long-time reader of Q-Notes and have always appreciated the fact that the Carolinas have a source for LGBT news. I am however worried that the continued printing of Urbaniak’s writings sends the wrong message about the LGBT community.

Giving Urbaniak a voice while he is still incarcerated gives the appearance that Q-Notes is endorsing a pedophile and that the LGBT community is including him in our fight for acceptance. Urbaniak has a debt to pay to his victim and has a debt to pay to society. Considering the fact that he may not be released until 2010, he still has not paid his debt in full. I am also concerned about his victim. How do you explain to the victim that Q-Notes is giving his perpetrator a public forum?

Remorse is one thing that is glaringly lacking in Urbaniak’s writings. I have been unable to find anything that resembles an apology to his victim in his articles. Quite the opposite, he writes as if he is a victim of the prison system. The true victim in this case is the individual that suffered, and probably continues to suffer, from Urbaniak’s crimes.

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Furthermore, reading Urbaniak’s columns made it absolutely clear to me that he has not changed. In my opinion he writes as if he could continue to be a danger to others when he is released. By quoting one of his articles, I will allow him to speak for himself. When describing another inmate Urbiniak wrote, “follow him to the shower for a private viewing of the rest of his tender young flesh.”

As a gay man I take great offense that Urbaniak also identifies himself as a gay man. Urbiniak is more than likely a pedophile who is attempting to gain sympathy from our community by claiming that he is gay. A gay man is attracted to other men, not boys. Let’s make it absolutely clear that there is no room at the LGBT table for child molesters.

I would also like to point out that Urbaniak is not a model prisoner. I have looked up his record on the publicly accessible North Carolina Department of Correction’s web page. He has 20 disciplinary infractions while in prison including forgery, violating North Carolina law, misuse of phone and mail, verbal threats, fighting, disobeying orders and being found in unauthorized locations. I think this says volumes about his character and shows that he continues to attempt to break the rules.

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In addition, Urbaniak’s articles are preceded with a note that states that he is a plaintiff in a pending lawsuit against the North Carolina Department of Corrections to secure the rights of LGBT prisoners to possess non-sexual reading materials. While the basic rights of LGBT prisoners is important, the North Carolina court system has been buried by frivolous lawsuits by inmates. These types of legal filings take away precious funds and time from an already strained system. Should LGBT prisoners have to the right to serve their time in a safe environment free from harassment and violence? Yes. Should LGBT prisoners expect all the amenities they were afforded while they were free? No. Urbaniak gave up many of his rights when he molested a child and was convicted and sentenced for his crimes.

In conclusion, I hope that Q-Notes will cease all publication of Urbaniak’s writings. The LGBT community has fought long and hard for acceptance. In my opinion, printing his articles is a disservice to all of us law abiding LGBT citizens.

— Kevin Scott is a former law enforcement officer and is currently an investigator for a Fortune 500 company in Charlotte, NC.

Q-Notes strives to provide the Carolinas LGBT community with an open forum for discussion and commentary. The views of guest commentators do not necessarily represent the official views or positions of Q-Notes, its editorial staff or publisher.

Be sure to read the accompanying opinion column by Editor Matt Comer in this issue, “Prisoner is just the messenger, try to see the message instead.”

{democracy:21}
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9 Replies to “Stop publishing writings from prisoner”

  1. I totally agree with Mr. Scott. This man committed a serious crime. One that will impact the victim for the rest of his or her life. What gives him the right to have what he wants? He gave up those rights the day he touched a child. This is disgusting.

    It also makes me sick to see the “editor” say “But he (Urbaniak) does offer us a chance to get just a small glance into a world most of us will never see or experience — a world we’re privileged to never endure. And while we sit safely on the outside, we might just find truths and realities we’ve never really thought of before.”

    Are you kidding me? How are we “privledged” to never endure prision? We know right from wrong. Of course we are not going to experience it. Sitting on the outside??? In all honesty we shouldn’t really care what goes on inside prison. You are in prison for a reason, you commited a horrible crime and now you pay the price. People are getting off way to easy these days. Pay for the crime you did. You lose all liberties when you commit a crime.

    I hope this column stops. I am truly embarrassed for the LGBT community. In todays society most people already have a stigmatism that all gays are pedophiles. However, this is very inaccurate. Yet this column continues to publish the work of a monster who happens to be gay. Taking 3 steps back to move a 1/2 foot forward.

    Sorry for the jumping around…can’t get my thoughts together for this one.

  2. As someone who has endured the pain and lingering emotional effects of sexual abuse, I find it appalling and repulsive that Q-Notes would publish a column from a man who committed such an offense. Anyone who victimizes a child, whether they are an “adolescent” or not should be locked away and should not see the light of day again. The decision to publish the opinions of this man shows a reprehensible insensitivity to not only this mans victim but to all those who have survived sexual abuse and a lack of common sense by the editor. I for one will no longer read Q-Notes until the column has been pulled!

  3. Michael, the editor himself is a survivor of child abuse. Have you read his opinion column or are you just ranting out of emotion?

  4. As a former employee of the NC Department of Correction, working in a closed-custody all male facility, I would like to thank Q-Notes for allowing Mr. Urbaniak to share his experiences as a gay man in prison. The fact is I am not employed by NCDOC today, for the same reason. I have witnessed the horror first hand, that Correctional Officers and prison administration commit against gay and bisexual inmates & staff (or those they perceive to be). (When I “came out” to my parents, my mom informed my supervisor of my orientation and that resulted in a barrage of rumors, investigations and retaliations – all of which I could not prove at the time to constitute legal action. I never found out about this conversation my mom had, until a year later when we reconciled our relationship.)

    During my tenure with NCDOC, I can personally recall at least eight staff members who verbally used anti-gay speech in the presence of, or towards inmates. (In one instance, an inmate was being stripped search – which is standard protocol in a prison – when a department head asked the inmate if he “had been ass f***ed” going on to say that he thought the inmate could “fit a softball” in his rectum. In another instance, a transgender inmate who used “fireball” candy to “paint” her lips to appear like they had lipstick, was the target of an assault organized by a correctional officer. In that incident, I had an interaction with the inmate and charged her with “disobeying an order” to have the inmate placed in solitary confinement – so that they inmate would avoid the physical assault.)

    I have also seen dozens of publications, similar to The Advocate and Genre, discarded because the prison administration didn’t want “that trash” in their facility. While the Department does have standard protocol in place and is governed by State and Federal law, much of the day-to-day operation is left up to an individual (commonly known as the Superintendent or “warden”) and his/her designees. Only those explicit constitutional rights (there are 8), as outlined in law that inmates keep while incarcerated, are not eligible for the Superintendent’s interpretation or flexiblity. (Violations of these rights are generally the cause of inmate lawsuits. And, yes, many of the lawsuits are frivolous, but a huge number of these suits have been upheld in court and have resulted in extensive reform and change within the Department of Correction).

    I don’t deny the fact that Mr. Urbaniak has been charged with a crime. A judge and jury have already done their job and Mr. Urbaniak is paying his price for that crime. His status as a convicted felon does not neglect the fact that he deserves fair and equal treatment while he serves his time in the custody of NCDOC. Mr. Urbaniak deserves the same rights (nothing more or less) as other inmates entrusted in the care and custody of NCDOC. It is not fair for other inmates to receive Hunting magazine, Christianity Today magazine, Magnum magazine – and Mr. Urbaniak not be able to receive a news publication (i.e. The Advocate, Genre, Out, etc), for the simple purpose that the publication offends the prison administration.

    His list of prison infractions, are mostly “small” infractions. An adequate comparison would be to a downtown parking ticket. He could have received many of the infractions at the same time and they could all be related to his pending lawsuit. Picture this: The inmate is taunted by a correctional officer who knows he is gay. The officer physically assaults the inmate and the inmate defends himself by pushing the officer away. The officer could easily “charge” the inmate with verbal threats, fighting, violating NC law (it’s illegal to assault a state employee), disobeying orders and being in an unauthorized location (you are only authorized to be where prison staff tell you – if they tell you to leave your “cell” and you take too long you can be charged with this offense). His “forgery” charge could be from using an “alias” name on outgoing mail or signing something other than his official name on a document (writing “Refused to sign” on a prison document could get you this charge). Misusing phone and mail could be from continuing to receive the “unauthorized” material that the prison says isn’t allowed.

    I’m not defending Mr. Urbaniak or his actions, but I know that inmates aren’t treated fairly. In addition, the “infraction court” is not like a court you and I would be tried in. The “judge” is generally a “ranking” correctional officer. The “judge” hears a statement from the staff and from the inmate and makes a decision. Generally the “judge” follows with the recommendation of the staff. (I have personally witnessed many inmates receive charges for things that I know they did not do) You are at the mercy of the prison staff (if they don’t like you, your life will be hell).

    I hope that QNotes will continue to run this column. Regardless of the fact that the inmate has been charged with a crime, he still the right to access to the media and to express his dissent in the way his is being treated. In this case, it’s obvious that his right has been unfairly infringed. By providing Mr. Urbaniak with a medium to share his injustice, QNotes is taking a leading stand for overall LGBT rights (not just those enjoyed by folks like you and me who obey the law – but by every human).

    I’m grateful that Matt and the editorial staff at Q-Notes decided to share Mr. Urbaniak’s experience with our community. Mr. Urbaniak’s crime no more is all inclusively representative of LGBT people than the Unibomber’s messages published in news media around the country is reflective of Caucasian people. It’s also unfair to refute Mr. Urbaniak’s sexual orientation on the basis that he committed a crime (of which he has been found guilty, is serving his time and has received extensive therapy).

    I denounce the messages of those who want to represent the LGBT community by desiring to misplace the bigotry found in this story. Discrimination, in any context, is wrong. It is possible for NC’s LGBT community to denounce the bigotry of the NC Department of Correction without embracing incest, pedophilia or other heinous crimes. Ignoring Mr. Urbaniak’s experience with bigotry will not help our movement. As society, we are measured how we treat those “less” among us.

    I’ll continue reading Q-Notes and continue to look forward to more messages from Mr. Urbaniak – as I join with him in fighting for fairness at the NC Department of Correction, within the State of North Carolina and in our nation. Thanks again QNotes for giving someone who would otherwise not have a voice – the ability to share with us the discrimination and bigotry embedded within our State government!

  5. Gee a former law enforcement officer who can read/write. Amazing. But doesn’t support the Bill of Rights, and our constitution.

    Think about that one!

  6. Hey “Tim”, Thank you for noticing that a police officer can read and write. Most police officers are college graduates and we live and breath the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I would be happy to debate this topic with you in person. Please feel free to contact via the editor, Matt. He knows how to reach me.

  7. It’s sad that too many “progressives” have a bad taste about law enforcement. There is a leading LGBT blog (I won’t mention it’s name) who has been a vocal opponent of law enforcement – specifically their use of the Taser. Many of these people have no idea what a LEO (law enforcement officer) goes through on a daily basis. Before my involvement in the criminal justice system (first as a student, then as a correctional officer, then as a security officer and now as a mental health professional) I had similar stigmas and disrespect for our nation’s LEOs.

    After I got to know some of the officers in my community, I quickly began to see the “shit” they go through on a daily basis. Their job is probably one of the most riskiest jobs in America. They live under the microscope of people who have no idea how the justice system works nor any knowledge of the law. Their opponents do not get up every morning and strap on body armor to protect from bullets & knives. They don’t get spit on in the face and called “pigs.” They don’t have visions of their families and loved ones flash before their eyes as they are in an armed stand-off with a fleeing felon.

    Our LEOs is what separates control and order from total chaos. We owe a huge level of respect to the men and women (many of whom are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) that wake up to start their shift every day without thinking twice about the challenges they face.

    While oversight is necessary, I’m proud to fully support law enforcement and I believe they should have the best tools available to do their jobs and continue to keep law and order in our nation.

    Kevin, while we may disagree with Qnotes publishing Mr. Urbaniaks letters, I owe you all the respect you deserve in serving our state as a LEO. May you never face harm and may you always have keen insight to stay safe! Thanks for your service!

  8. Kevin, Thanks for the note and reply, but, no-thanks for the meet and greet. I’m not one to consort w/members of the LEO community whether past or present. Too many in that area think they are above the law, and/or it doesn’t apply to them as it applies to the general public. The few who are good people are overshadowed by the many who do not need to be in that profession. Thus, the reason for continued oversight.

  9. I see that I am quite far behind the time on this issue, but would like to post as I have been referenced in this list of crap several times. I am/was the “child” in question related to how Joe found himself in his current situation. I think it is quite interesting how easily people are labeled by those who know nothing of situations. It is and has been for years SOO easy to charge someone of sexual crimes and that person be declared guilty with very littel solid evidence. While I conceid that Joe was in the wrong by legal means having the relationship that he and I had at the age I was at the time, Joe stepped into my life as a father figure that I didn’t have because the one I had was an alcoholic. A big brother is a better description of the relationship I shared with this man.

    As it turns out, I am an out and proud gay man, and was sexually active FAR before I ever met Joe. The only reason that Joe ever was charged with his “crime” is because I was so scared of being outted at the time, that I allowed a girls parents to force the issue and rather than taking responsibility for who and what I was at the time, I allowed him to be charged with an excessive amount of charges, none of which should have stuck, except maybe the fact that I was under aged. I have since tried to aid Joeseph in correcting his situation and have met much opposition in the court system. While I do not in ANY way condone sexual acts with minors, much less children, I also dont think that people should be so quick to judge others when they can only assume what the case is with things like this.

    In closing I’d ask any who read this to remember, you cant always judge a book by its cover, and things aren’t always what they appear to be. Remember, as homosexuals, people are always going to be out to get us, and our judicial system does not always give the proper attention to causes in our lives.

    Regards!

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