Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Out of Control

Von at Obsidian Wings, Radley Balko and Andrew Sullivan all link to this fascinating and upsetting post by Classically Liberal about Sex Offenders and Registry Laws. Why it's upsetting is not what you might think.

Sullivan also links to this Economist piece, which I think is even better.

This situation will never improve, because no politician or law enforcement person who has to answer to an electorate will ever come down on the right side.


steves said...

Very upsetting, and this is something that I have first-hand experience with. In a previous career, I worked as a family/child therapist and treated hundreds of sex abuse victims and probably several dozen sex offenders. In the later category, most were adults or older teens, but a few were much younger. The youngest was under the age of 10 and was placed on the sex offender registry.

Both myself and his psychiatrist submitted letters to the Court to see if the Judge would prevent his being placed on the Registry. Nope, the law does not allow for any leeway or discretion. Like this article says, this is very unfortunate and will haunt this kid (now an adult) for the rest of his life.

I think that Registries have limited value and I think they are certainly overused. I would prefer to see them scrapped entirely and replaced with a system whereby people were placed on them on a case by case basis. This should be reserved for true predators, not streakers and teens that got busted parking.

From the OP:
They will be tortured by therapists and eventually released—maybe.


The Left wants everyone in therapy and under the perpetual care of the state

Bullshit. I wish he would have taken some time to explain what he meant before making these kinds of accusations. This may be anecdotal, but I never saw anything in my professional career that would make me think that therapists were "torturing" kids accused of sex crimes.

I would also have to say that the vast majority of people that did actual jail time were adults and not kids. I am not saying it doesn't happen, but just urging caution before people get too outraged.

steves said...

He also says:

Fuck John Walsh

I am willing to cut him some slack, considering his 6 year old son was kidnapped and decapitated. If you want to blame anyone for the hysteria, blame the sponsors of the subsequent legislation, James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Mark Foley (R-FL), John Kerry (D-MA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) (the last 2 added several amendments to the Bill).

While there are some problematic parts of this law, there are some benefits, including a nationwide DNA database.

steves said...

I thought the Economist piece was better, too.

Mr Furious said...

"...I never saw anything in my professional career that would make me think that therapists were "torturing" kids accused of sex crimes."

That part of the post is definitely written with a great deal of emotion flowing through the keyboard. The anguish above had clearly turned to fury.

Anyway, as someone who's been in some therapy and is married to a CSW who worked with troubled kids in the NYC school system, to say therapy is torture is a pretty gross exaggeration. I can only assume the author is implying that Court-mandated therapy for a kid who has really done nothing wrong, might not exactly be beneficial. And if the therapist isn't good, it might be harmful and shame-inducing and create a problem where none existed.

Mr Furious said...

I will say, that "playing doctor" has taken a turn for the bizarre based on the stories from my wife and the elementary school she served. And the high and junior high tales from my much younger sister-in-law would give a parent nightmares.

In the school my wife worked, "playing doctor" wasn't a furtive "you touch mine, I'll touch yours" nervous moment... it was mock blow jobs going on in the bathroom stalls—of an elementary school!

Some of these kids were the worst of the worst for behavioral issues, but this wasn't evidence these kids were predators in their formative years to be branded for life. They were kids being raised in totally inappropriate home environments with a warped sense of what normal growing up and development was.

They certainly needed some therapy, but if any of them ended up on a list like this, even years later, it'd likely be a travesty.

As for the high school tales, let's just say that the one-sided sexual pressure on girls is out of control. Fellatio is the new second base.

Smitty said...

Fellatio is the new second base

I really really want to say something about regrets from my own high school experience not being timed appropriately with this new revelation, but I'll leave that alone in honor of this much more serious post.

For 3 years now in Michigan,. I have had clients work on record expungement for certain sex offense crimes. If we want these people to be able to go to school and get a job, we have to remove certain stigma. A drunk college kid at MSU pisses in the bushes near a cop and gets nailed (yes, that happens here, and yes, it's allowable under thelaw)...now can't get a job with his brand new shiny CSC 4 conviction.

And those bills have failed every time. For urination, flashing and other minor acts. CSC 1 I get. But for God's sake, people, it is the one single class of criminal that we don't allow to rehabilitate and move on.

And when this happens to middle and hig school kids, it becomes a social emergency.

Jay said...

As for the high school tales, let's just say that the one-sided sexual pressure on girls is out of control.

Like Smitty, I'm not trying to move the discussion away from a very serious issue. But I have to ask when sexual pressure on girls (in living memory in this country, anyway) was ever anything but one-sided and out of control? If the types of acts have changed, that sounds to me like social evolution rather than something active and sinister. Parents need to be aware of it, like any other change that's occurred since they were kids, but I am not sure it represents a major paradigm shift.

And, obviously (I hope), I feel that criminalizing that sort of behavior, just because they are minors, when there is no indication of assault or coercion is absurd and dangerous.

steves said...

Michigan has one of the worst registries. Most states don't include urinating in public or mooning as offenses that will get you on the registry.

I had plenty of court-mandated clients and found it to be problematic. Therapy is a (mostly) cooperative process that requires the client to be a willing participant. Contrary to what is depicted in the movies, therapists don't "trick" people into getting better. Mandating therapy is just like mandating that a person think happy thoughts. There is no way to prove that it is working. The only thing that I could usually report was if they showed up for their appointments. Waste of my time and theirs.

While there are some genuine kid psychopaths, most that were acting out were not. They certainly didn't belong on a registry for their whole life.