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The prison blog of Bernie Ward
When I lived in the radio range of KGO, I sometimes listened to the Bernie Ward program at midnight. Last year, he was sent to prison for possession of child pornography. While this is a highly touchy subject, I held a private perspective of generally believing his excuse that he had been trying to learn about online networks of pedophiles in order to see if he could find some repressed priests (before having a family with several kids, he had studied for the priesthood, and has written extensively on reform in the catholic church).
Recently I decided to write him in prison because I had looked up an article about his seven year sentence, to compare with another case where a violent criminal got a light sentence. He wrote back and mentioned his blog, which he maintains by mailing entries to family. He would like response or critique of his writings.
He basically said that he is helping tutor people for the GED, but the prison makes it difficult to get books. (I sent him an address for the Prison Literature Project run by Bound Together and Moe's books in Berkeley. They are often very behind on answering letters and need a lot of help with postage money, but they like to meet the requests of people interested in politics or educating themselves while in prison http://www.prisonersliteratureproject.com/ )
He's taking classes in diesel engine and appliance repair, and would like to be transferred from Beaumont Texas to a California prison ( FCI low, Bernie Ward 90569-111, PO Box 26020, Beaumont, TX 77720-6020 ). Commissary funds are requested at http://BOP.com
Bernie Ward was a relatively rare liberal on talk radio, and took a mixture of center-liberal and progressive positions (I think he supported Nader, supported US intervention in Yugoslavia after visiting the war zone, hated critical mass riders etc). While shows like Democracy Now are a lot better, many of the shows on Air America, and even sometimes KPFA are hard to listen to for extended periods of time. Also, sometimes it is fun to listen to callers. Ray Taliafaro at 1-5am is also a pretty good host on KGO, if you ever are working late. His callers seem to include a lot of senior citizens with radical views who deliver various rants.
Ward had several pieces of child pornography as attachments to emails. He didn't own print pictures or videos, and there was no record of his having had this habit prior to this venture online a couple years ago. He went to an online AOL chat room under an assumed identity, and one of the first people he encountered was an anti-child porn monitor who turned in his address to the FBI. I'm not sure where or how pedophiles find each other online, but I understand that they use tricks like obscuring their IP address, but Ward wasn't familiar with any of these precautions. Do you think I'm crazy or biased in still feeling like Ward isn't a genuine pedophile or molester, and that he was naively trying to monitor or explore how pedophiles use the internet? I'm sort of mixed on how criminal he acted. He did commit a crime, but there are so many people in our community who were actual victims of rape or molestation, where the offender received mild or no punishment. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/02/16/BA9DV3G62.DTL