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National

CO: Polygraph testing and treatment of sexual offenders

[jenniferkamorowski.net 5/19/18]

On May 9, the Colorado legislature passed House Bill 1427, which prohibits individuals with a vested economic interest in administration of polygraph tests from serving on the sex offender management board (SOMB). Beyond the issue of conflict of interest, there are other reasons to keep polygraph out of sex offender treatment decisions. The primary reasons are issues with reliability and the coercive nature of compelling disclosures about thoughts and activities (legal or illegal).

Polygraph testing in post-conviction sex offender treatment (PCSOT) is used in approximately 80% of community-based sex offender treatment programs.[1] This high rate of use continues despite the fact that in 2003 the National Research Council found little support for the accuracy of polygraph, particularly when used for screening purposes, as it is in PCSOT.[2] The lack of scientific support for polygraph testing is why the results are generally not admissible in court. Despite this lack of scientific support, some proponents of polygraph are unconcerned with the accuracy, reliability, or validity of the testing as long as it gets people to confess to deviant thoughts and “risky” behaviors.[3]

There is no objective way to measure the accuracy of the polygraph[4], but proponents claim the value is in increased disclosure of information and deterrence of offending.[5] However, claims about the value of polygraph as a deterrent to offending are not supported by research.[6] Increased disclosure of information is also not supported as having either treatment or deterrence value. In fact, a 2007 study found that there was no difference in recidivism rates between sexual offenders who were subjected to polygraph and those who were not.[7] Contrary to the purported value of increased disclosures, there is no evidence increased disclosures means decreased offending.

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  1. Agamemnon

    It’ll be interesting to see how valuable Colorado finds the polygraph tests now that the proprietor of the testing firm is no longer on the board.

    • Mike S

      I think we all know that nothing will change. Polys give reason to violate and add more time to Probation. The SO group in Reading, PA would require anyone that failed a poly to attend back to back groups and pay for them. When I requested, through the Freedom of Information Act, this groups submission to the SOAB of PA, I learned that they provided false treatment plans to them. I filed a complaint, in another name, and was discharged a week later without explanation.

      The short of the story is that SO probation is a money grab and an CYA for all involved. Until SCOTUS or any State Supreme Court rule that these “tests” are simply there to scare people into “dumping”, they are going to stick around for a long time.

      For the record, I went 12-0 on beating the poly!! Not to minimize, but it was about leaving the state without permission and drinking.

    • Protect Status Quo?

      I’m going to guess that Colorado will continue to use the polygraph. My opinion is based on the fact that their “treatment” schemes rely not on actual therapy, but heavily on coerced statements, admissions, and/or “results” gained through the polygraph. The “doctors” who run these so-called treatment programs know no other way; it is part of their culture. They are “mental health professionals” who have sold out from the true calling of their profession. Instead of building trust and helping the “sex offender” do the hard and heavy lifting, these Sharper Future type scams are Therapy In Name Only (TIMO).

      Polygraph results also provide for another negative paper to put in an “offender’s” file — so that these reports can be used against the person in the future (i.e. if an offender decides to petition off the registry, etc.).

      In reality, sex offender treatment programs serve only one function: To intimidate and serve as an auxiliary to either parole or probation. And again, I am almost certain that the information collected through the course of these bogus sex offender treatment programs WILL be used against a person if he/she decides to petition off the registry. These “doctors” are not trained to write reports in your favor, as they are agents of the state.

      • Protect Status Quo?

        To make a correction: Therapy In Name Only (TINO)

      • Jonathan Hayward

        Interesting comments. I think it’s important that we don’t just to tack sharper future as quickly as we used to. They are actually not the biggest contract holder anymore. There are other players that are just as shady if not worse than Sharper. They all do polygraph, they all take money, they all do the same exact thing because that’s what CDCR and the state contract make them do. So I’m not going to attack Sharper Future anymore. I’m going to attack them all because they all do the same work. I have been a client at several of them. If you don’t believe me, look it up. Hope, ANEW, CPC, Open Door. They all hold millions of dollars in contracts in the state. And as of 2017, many of them hold way more contracts than sharper future.

  2. Matt

    Here’s the bottom line, friends: You are not allowed to use a polygraph in a court of law to defend yourself. (I tried.) The reason is because the “evidence” picked up from these machines is junk. End of discussion. However, the Nazi’s who control you have full authority to use this exact same technique to do you harm….and it’s perfectly legal. These people are liars. They are scum. They know exactly what they’re doing and they don’t give a care about any of us. The sooner we all accept that, and get in the fight, the sooner we can crush these sewer dwellers and get on with our lives. If you’re going to spend your energy asking pond-scum to do the right thing, you’re wasting your time. Get in the fight. Treat them the same way they treat us. They will, never, ever, ever, ever, do the right thing. We have to force them.

  3. Anonymous

    Guys in my group have been caught by their P.O. drinking, and with porn. Others in therapy have admitted to spending time with minor nieces and nephews etc. Months later, after everybody pretty much forgot about those things, these guys passed the polygraph!!! Lol hahahaha

  4. Tim Moore

    I never really minded the polygraph test itself, but the cost. If those voodoo machines are so good for public safety, have the public pay for them. I had creditors calling every day, had to dig up $300 every six months for the polygraph, and then had to pay $35 a week for group. The goal in group was to control our stress to limit our chances of re-offense. Oh, really? The finacial burden was what was mainly stressing me out. Then I would have to go to my personal therapist to talk for an hour at $100 and then jump to the psychologist to get some drugs for depression caused mainly by this financial insecurity. Thankfully my wife had health care and that was only a $25 co pay. My healing I credit only to family. The judicial/therapy treatment was metaphorically speaking leech craft.

    • Happy, joyous and free

      Tim, well said. I experienced much of the same, except I was single, and trying to find an open minded lesbian in my area was an exercise in futility. The financial burden was a huge stress factor, and the reputation of my therapist for setting group members to verbally fight each other was unconstructive. I ended up needing two years of therapy after my probation was over to undo most of my panic attacks and probation induced paranoia.

      The polygraph is junk science. It’s the skill of the polygrapher in interrogations that gets them to determine if someone may be lying. If you walk in poorly dressed, with a bad affect and avoid eye contact, you will be pegged as someone with something to hide. I made the mistake of saying that my father was an intel officer and interrogator to be conversational. My first polygrapher automatically assumed I was trying to beat the polygraph. What a total waste of time to line someone’s 3rd career pocket.

      • Tim Moore

        Finding someone who is open minded and accepting is a lifeline. Sometimes the only person like that is looking out from your eyes.

  5. WC_TN

    Listed below are court rulings against the constitutionality of the sexual history polygraph based on 5th Amendment violations (right to be free from compelled self-incrimination). Sexual history questionnaires upon which the sexual history polygraphs are based uniformly require the offender to list every offense they committed, but were never reported or prosecuted for. This question is especially dangerous to child molesters since every state has mandatory reporting laws. Compounding this danger is that in most states there is no statute of limitations that tolls a countdown clock when child molestation is involved. Offenders can be and have been prosecuted decades after the abuse took place. When the offender is a child molester this sexual history polygraph poses a greatly enhanced, immediate and dire threat of self-incrimination. Part of the standard treatment agreement offenders signs is a provision that authorizes the treatment provider to report any additional cases of child sexual abuse disclosed during the course of treatment to the authorities.

    The precedent setting case on this issue of polygraphs and compelled self-incrimination resulting from sex offender treatment is The United States v. Lawrence Antelope (9th Circuit Court of Appeals).

    https://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-9th-circuit/1050548.html

    Other cases that followed:

    United States v. Von Behren:

    https://www.ca10.uscourts.gov/opinions/15/15-1033.pdf

    United States v. Bahr (No. 12-30218)

    http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2013/09/16/12-30218.pdf

    Dansby v. Texas

    https://law.justia.com/cases/texas/court-of-criminal-appeals/2013/pd-0613-12.html

    Similarly, offenders cannot be kicked out of mandated treatment simply because they refuse to incriminate themselves.

    People of Colorado v. Guatney

    https://law.justia.com/cases/colorado/court-of-appeals/2007/06ca0704-modified.html

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