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RI: Letter: Leo Carroll: Base sex offender laws on facts rather than myths [opinion]

[providencejournal.com]

Two decades of research regarding the effects of sex offender laws have produced no evidence that such laws achieve their stated purposes. A recent review of research on community notification and residency restriction laws in the Oxford Handbook of Sex Offences and Sex Offenders concludes that such legislation is “misinformed and simply incorrect.”

These laws are knee-jerk reactions to hysteria fueled by media narratives of sensational but exceptional tragedies; they are based on myths rather than facts. The first myth is that sex offenders are strangers, when in fact the overwhelming number of sex offenses are committed by family members, acquaintances or persons in positions of authority whom the victim trusts or relies upon.

The second myth is that sex offenders, particularly rapists and child molesters, chronically reoffend. Factual evidence tells us otherwise. The Bureau of Justice Statistics followed 9,691 sex offenders released from prison in 1994. Only 14 percent had had a prior conviction for a sex crime, and in the three years following their release, only 5 percent were re-arrested for a sex crime and only 3.5 percent were convicted.

A third myth is that sex offenders cannot be treated successfully. The majority of nearly 100 studies conducted since the 1970s finds treatment can reduce sexual recidivism, and any recidivism, by about 25 percent, and the more recent studies find the strongest effects.

Because they are based on myths, laws requiring community notification and restricting residency do nothing to ensure public safety and may in fact be counterproductive. Stigmatizing and isolating offenders may lead many of them to adopt a transient lifestyle that eludes monitoring and deprives them of support and treatment.

Leo Carroll

North Kingstown

The writer is a professor of sociology and a professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Rhode Island.

Read the original article

 

Join the discussion

  1. Ron

    Thank you, Leo Carroll

  2. Fishy

    I have a question: If “[t]wo decades of research regarding the effects of sex offender laws have produced no evidence that such laws achieve their stated purposes,” then how does the government rationalize a sex offender registry for anyone?

    CASOMB and others will say a registry is necessary for “high” risk individuals. CASOMB then claims to be an “evidence-based” organization. Yet why does CASOMB ignore the fact that sex offender laws have produced no evidence that such laws achieve their stated purpose? Equally, why does CASOMB continue to peddle the Static-99R when the “studies” that push the Static are written by the very people — i.e. Karl Hanson, et al. — who created the Static “tests?”

    • Dustin

      Fishy,

      2 reasons. One, CASOMBs very existence relies on the registry and the restrictions imposed on registrants. If the registry were abolished – as it should be, but not likely to happen in the near future – and SOs were manages along with all other felons, CASOMB would come to an end as well. Two, though none will ever admit it, there are numerous private financial interests with polygraphers, SO treatment providers, and so on.

      CASOMB can’t very well acknowledge that the registry and associated restrictions are ineffective at managing a problem (SO recidivism) that was so grossly overstated in the first place because the next obvious question would be, “Then why do we need CASOMB?”

    • Alec

      Fishy,

      > then how does the government rationalize a sex offender registry for anyone?

      The same way they justify the war on drugs, despite decades of evidence that it increases drug abuse, kills kids, destroys communities, encourages trafficking (drug, sex, guns and otherwise), and worst of all, does absolutely nothing to curb drug use, and EVEN worse, despite hard evidence that alternative policies are 1000x as effective at achieving the stated aims (e.g. Portugal).

      The way they justify it?

      BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH THEY’RE GONNA KILL YOU ALL AHHHHHHHHH DON’T LOOK OVER THERE LALA LA LA LA L AL ALA LA LA LA!!!

      Sorry but to me that’s exactly what their behavior looks like and that’s in fact all it is. That’s how they justify it.

      How do they *defend* it? They don’t have to. When most of the population is on the verge of losing everything (what is it like 97% of Americans couldn’t survive the month without their paycheck?), defending humanity, rights, and a fair and just society simply don’t rate high on the scale of important things.

  3. Dustin

    There’s also a study commissioned by Oregon that found “treatment” has no effect on recidivism, and may even increase it in some cases. Of course, that part of the findings and recommendations weren’t submitted to the legislature by the committee that commissioned the study. That particular finding surprises some, but many disbelieve it.

    But think about it for a minute. Many crimes (sex crimes included) are committed because of poor judgment or just plain stupidity, neither of which are mental health issues. “Treating” a nonexistent illness or injury often causes other illnesses or injury. Who in their right mind would go through chemotherapy if there was no cancer?

    The same goes with mental health treatment. Over time, the patient either becomes mentally ill or, particularly in cases of treatment ordered by courts or corrections departments, illnesses have to be created or faked just to give the provider something to treat.

    Most SO treatment I’ve seen is absolutely worthless. Even if they find at screening that the “patient” is perfectly adjusted, they recommend treatment, meaning the person will go through treatment regardless because the PO/court (none of whom are qualified to make such a diagnosis) ordered it. Of course, money for the provider has nothing to do with it. Nothing at all. [/sarcasm]

    "Treatment" basically means you must feel like a perfect waste of humanity (because if you don't, you're obviously ill) and if you don't, they'll make you by frequently repeating the circumstances of your offense repeatedly in front of large, often changing groups. Once you do, the provider can convince you that you aren't, which takes as long as the court/PO says. Oh, and you have to pay for it. It's important to help you dedicate yourself to your new mental well-being. It goes without saying that the only mentally adjusted sex offenders are those rendered homeless and unemployable. [/sarcasm]

    As infuriating as that is, it is equally sad that those in prison that genuinely are mentally disturbed – and no doubt that is a significant portion of the prison population – will never spend one meaningful minute with a therapist or counselor, the majority of whose time is spent administering ineffective "treatment" where it is often not necessary. Recidivism of those individuals is inordinately high, yet no one wants to address that, at least not in any meaningful way.

    The best "treatment" for crime is to pay for it in some regard and most learn not to repeat it. Prison itself is often good for that. Yes, some will return to prison for new crime. But that's not necessarily mental illness either. Like it or not, some people are too stupid to learn from their own mistakes, some are institutionalized, some are too lazy to try to make an honest living. And – brace yourself – some are just self-centered, inconsiderate a**h***s.

    • David Kennerly, There But For the Grace Of Dog...

      Treatment has, as its primary goal, the destruction of the individual through self-loathing and total incapacitation. This is accompanied by a regime of re-engineering in which the pieces are put back together along strictly authoritarian lines. The subject will display (and feel) continuous deferential servility to people like the therapists. Thoughts independently arrived at are unwelcome in this new Clockwork Orange Jumpsuits/Stepford Registrants world.

    • Fishy

      Then there are articles such as this. Of course, Trump would call it #FakeNews (as it is from the NY Times):

      https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/27/health/sexual-harassment-addiction-treatment.html

      “‘There are no evidence-based programs I know of for the sort of men who have been in the news recently,’ said Vaile Wright, director of research and special projects at the American Psychological Association.

      “The evidence that talk therapy and medication can curb sexual misconduct is modest at best, and virtually all of it comes from treating severe disorders, like pedophilia and exhibitionism, experts said — powerful urges that cannot be turned off.”

    • "Treatment?" WTF

      Dustin,

      I searched for that Oregon study claiming that “treatment” tends to make recidivism worse. Amazing that the Oregon legislature decided not to include it in its findings. Also, the findings of this report make me question whether CASOMB is truthful in its repeated assertions to the efficacy of “treatment” schemes. In the upcoming California tiered registry, CASOMB, for whatever reason, worked very hard to lobby that registrants “successfully complete” a CASOMB approved treatment course prior to petitioning from the registry. It makes me wonder why…

      Anyway, here is the paper:

      https://www.ncjrs.gov/app/abstractdb/AbstractDBDetails.aspx?id=161209

      “[T]he re-offense rate of treated offenders is not lower than that for untreated offenders, if anything it tends to be extremely higher.”

      And this:

      “Although a lot of research has been done on the recidivism rates of sex offenders the Furby study was unique in that it sat down empirical guidelines. They looked at literally hundreds of other studies, most of which were thrown out because they did not follow proper scientific methodology. And as a result the Furby evaluation of these studies is considered as being the most extensive and meticulously analytical. One of the reasons for this being that they also included people who had received no treatment as a baseline for their other evaluations. What the Furby study found was that people placed on probation with no therapy were the least likely to re-offend, offenders sent to jail or prison also without therapy were rated second least likely to re-offend, and those who were mandated or forced to volunteer under threat of prison or jail time or were actually sentenced to behavior modification therapy were at least twice and as much as 10 times more likely to re-offend sexually and more likely to be involved in other types of violent crime at increased rates as well.

      “In the state funded study commissioned by the legislators of Oregon entitled, ‘Sex Offenders in Oregon‘ by T K Martin & J L Hutzler, the Furby study was quoted as stating, ‘there is as yet no evidence that clinical treatment reduces the rate of sexual offenses.’ Furby and her colleagues other statement was omitted from the state report. It stated that, ‘the re-offense rate of treated offenders is not lower than that for untreated offenders, if anything it tends to be extremely higher.'”

      https://narsol.org/2017/07/the-effectiveness-of-sex-offender-treatment-programs/

      • Dustin

        “Treatment” WTF,

        That’s the one. I’m not surprised by that study’s finding because “treating” non-existent mental illness tends to make someone mentally ill. Most sex offenses are the result of ignorance or stupidity, neither of which is a mental illness. Me, I liken SO treatment to treating a sunburn with chemotherapy, assuming the person has skin cancer.

        As I understand it, the Oregon legislature formed a committee to evaluate is SO laws and recommend changes. That committee ordered the study and sanitized its findings to the full legislature when it didn’t produce the desired outcome. It’s along the same lines of my comments on how sex crimes are investigated nowadays – the result is predetermined.

        Tiering is absolutely useless. Other states already do it and it has no impact on anything. General public perception doesn’t distinguish between tiers; simply being on the registry is enough. Evaluation boards are too small to thoroughly investigate cases. Most states don’t allow their parolees and probationers to view their files, negating a chance to refute or highlight anything in it. Appeals are extraordinarily difficult, whether it’s to the board (essentially a form letter saying “Nope. We were right.” like most parole boards) or judicial review. Both usually require travel to the state capitol which is beyond many registrants’ means. Other states disregard them and will tier someone a predator simply for being from another state.

        Long story short, any proposed changes to SO laws that might benefit registrants should be taken with a large grain of salt. They’re usually only symbolic efforts to appear fair and reasonable while maintaining the status quo.

        • David Kennerly, A Jumped-Up Pantry Boy Who Never Knew His Place

          Agreed! Re: “That committee ordered the study and sanitized its findings to the full legislature when it didn’t produce the desired outcome.” I would love to know more about this. Sounds a bit like how the U.S. Congress retaliated against the scientific findings of Bruce Rind’s, et al meta-analysis some years ago. Guess they didn’t dig what he had to say (said about Colonel Kurtz by the Martin Sheen character in Apocalypse Now).

        • Thanks Dustin

          RE: “Tiering is absolutely useless. Other states already do it and it has no impact on anything.”

          True that most other states “tier.” What other states have not done, however, is use a so-called “risk” assessment like the Static-99R to place people in tiers. When the tiered registry comes to fruition in California, the politicians have given junk science the power to do exactly that: Base a person’s “risk” on junk science. And from what I’ve read, California will be *the only* state to permit such an assessment to place people into tiers. If California is indeed a weather-vane for what other states look to, then these “assessments” will become the mess that we are headed to.

          Question is: Will anyone fight it?

        • Tim Moore

          If one developed a truly reliable risk assessment that reflected the low 3.5 % reoffense rate, 96 to 97 people out of 100 convicted of sex offenses would not be on a registry. Even if 7 out of 100 (twice the re-offending rate) were put on a registry, 50% of those would be wrongly labeled. Since 100 out of 100 are now put on a registry, 96.5% are wrongly put there. You can’t get more unfair than that. You can probably think up some kind of assessment that would put 3 people out of 100 in the general public on a registry and probably be more accurate identifying who is going to commit a sex crime. Hey, it’s only regulatory.

        • Thanks Dustin

          It’s not regulatory, but cruel and unusual punishment. Unlike what John Roberts argued in 2002/2003, sex offender registration is not like a Price Club application. There is no evidence that a registry helps reduce sex crimes, regardless of whether a tool claims to predict “risk.”

        • AJ

          @Timmr:
          I recall reading (I think in good old Doc Hansen’s stuff) that the background rate of sex offense in the adult male population is 1-2%. The fear-creators will of course spin that as “RCs are twice as likely….”

        • Dustin

          The (2006?) DOJ study already did that, interpretting its SO reconviction rate vs. other offenders to conclude that SOs are four times more likely to commit a sex offense than other types of felons. The “four times more likely” part was hyped up for the longest.

        • Tim Moore

          I remember Karl H. said that the registrant rate drops to that background amount at around 17 years offense free. The stated reason for my servitude to the list, public safety, is no longer valid, because I am just like any other citizen, having past that statistical marker. I am a year past that now. Where are my manumission papers?

        • Dustin

          Not sure what you’ve read, but pretty certain all states that tier use Static-99R or one of its predecessors, at least as a starting point.

          As far as I know, it’s only the federal registry that tiers according to the convicted offense. That was supposedly a major point of contention for the states that didn’t fully implement the Adam Walsh Act , though I suspect that most states chose not to because it would cost far more than the federal grant money lost and all other purported reasons were only to create the illusion of reasonability.

          Regardless of the method used to assess risk, nothing in the RSOs life will change as far as the public is concerned. Arizona didn’t publicly disclose their level one offenders for a while, but caved when the media out there blared a few stories from an “outraged public” (read: a handful of local feminists). Once they did, Arizona’s level ones began to experience the same harassment and discrimination as the others.

          Personally, I think there are only two levels; one for first time sex offenders, and two for repeat sex offenders. But as simplistic as that is, I doubt it would alter public perception because public hysteria believes all SOs are repeat SOs, that he has offended hundreds of times before getting caught, that he will offend again as sure as the sun will rise, and nothing will persuade them otherwise.

          There’s a county in Colorado (the name escapes me at the moment) where in September the sheriff took down his public registry, pending appeal of a successful federal constitutional challenge of three registrants there (he still reports the required data to the state, and his county’s registrants are publicly available on the state registry). He has been criticized by the local press for doing so, predicting an increase in RSOs moving in and consequently the public, specifically children, are more endangered.

          It will be interesting to see if either actually happens and, if not, how it will be explained. I don’t see many SOs moving there, at least not from out of state, simply because many of us couldn’t afford it out of hand and having a job waiting there is doubtful at best. But even if we did, I seriously doubt there would be a marked increase in sex offenses reported.

        • Thanks Dustin

          I am curious, but which other state(s) use the Static-99R (or other similar type of “risk assessment”) to tier individuals? Also, I wonder why the federal government, in AWA, decided *not* to use a so-called risk assessment. Do you have any idea?

          As posted before, I do know that former Attorney General Eric Holder has been against risk-assessments like the Static-99R. Here is a quote from the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Journal:

          “In 2014, Eric Holder, then the U.S. attorney general, articulated the uncertainty swirling around these tools in a speech given to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ 57th Annual Meeting. ‘Although these [risk assessment] measures were crafted with the best of intentions, I am concerned that they may inadvertently undermine our efforts to ensure individualized and equal justice,’ he said. ‘They may exacerbate unwarranted and unjust disparities that are already far too common in our criminal justice system and in our society.'”

          http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/algorithm_bail_sentencing_parole

          (BTW, I do believe that the Static-99R is a scam.)

        • Dustin

          Most state statutes require their SO management boards to tier, but leave the method to the board. You have to research the board to find their methods and criteria. Georgia and Arizona both use Static 99; they’re the only states I have researched to that degree. Willing to bet that other tiering states use mostly the same criteria, even if they call it something else.

          The practice of both actually demonstrate the main problem I have with tiering. Registries are inordinately large and the boards charged with evaluating them are very small, too small to thoroughly evaluate individual cases, even if its board were dedicated to their task (which I doubt).

          If you assume it takes about a month – a very conservative estimate – to thoroughly examine an SOs record (not counting the time to acquire those records) and make a determination, it is impossible for any board to accurately assess the risk of its offenders (if that is even possible – separate discussion). The result is an automatic designation, usually based on the crime of conviction and/or number of convictions. Indications of that are shown by states without un-leveled registrants. No board would ever admit it because it calls into question if their jobs are needed and whether or not they’re doing them.

          Georgia is unique, as far as I know. Despite the board’s statutory obligation to tier its offenders within 6 months of release from incarceration or 90 within days of conviction without prison time, they simply don’t do it. Some Georgia registrants released up to 10 years ago aren’t leveled. I’m currently not leveled (something I’ll pick up after dealing with a stacked charge issue in my sentencing court).

          While arguing the intents and merits of a tiering system might make for interesting debate, it’s still an exercise in futility. Judges/POs retain the authority to impose whatever restrictions they want and the authority to deviate from statutory requirements (often to impose more, rarely to relieve). Public perception of and discrimination against the registrant doesn’t change, as shown in the Arizona counties that reversed its policy of not disclosing their level one registrants.

          The negatives about the registry in general were predicted at inception and have proven true, beyond the most pessimistic predictions. But the registry has become big business since then, several billion per year nationwide in some estimates. As with the registry in general, tier systems have nothing to do with public safety. It is the illusion of fairness and action while maintaining the status quo.

        • Dustin

          I suspect the federal government veered from risk assessment due to sheer numbers. Don’t know what the registered population was in 2014, but is approaching a million now. Funny how they probably didn’t review their own records to find the offenses most often repeated when they determined their offense-based tiers. Or how subsequent convictions are often based largely (if not entirely) on previous convictions rather than the strengths/weakness of all other evidence in later prosecutions.

          Plus, if the registry supposedly protects the public from the worst of the worst, wouldn’t those offenders be level one? They’re already incarcerated or civilly committed for life, reducing the likelihood of re-offense to zero. So how are they a current threat to the public?

        • @Dustin

          @Dustin

          I had researched Arizona and Georgia; both do NOT use the Static-99 and/or Static-99R. However, Arizona does use a 19 question risk assessment — one that is more extensive than the mere 10 questions in the Static-99R. See right column for 19 criterion:

          https://www.dcourier.com/news/2017/jan/13/sex-offender/

          Unlike the Static-99R, at least Arizona’s risk assessment takes into consideration whether force was used, treatment, disciplinary history in jail or prison, employment history, alcohol/drug history — all factors that the Static-99R does NOT take into consideration. Unless I am mistaken, California will be the *only* state that will rely exclusively on the Static-99R to determine “risk.”

          Georgia also does not seem to use the Static-99R. According to the Rules of the Georgia Sex Offender Registration Review Board, the Board takes into consideration a registrant’s “psychological evaluations, sexual history polygraph information, treatment history, and personal, social, educational, and work history, and may agree to submit to a psychosexual evaluation or sexual history polygraph conducted by the board.”

          https://gbi.georgia.gov/42-1-14-state-sexual-offender-registry

          Nowhere in Arizona and/or Georgia’s statute does it mention “Static,” “Static-99,” and/or “Static-99R.”

        • Dustin

          As I pointed out in my opening remark above:

          “Most state statutes require their SO management boards to tier, but leave the method to the board.”

          Based on what I was told when I contacted the SOM boards in Georgia and Arizona, I was told they did use the Static 99. Georgia uses it in conjunction with another locally produced spreadsheet that includes the required statutory data filled out from the parolee’s/probationer’s case file, which the assessed person cannot view. Arizona started with Static 99 and modified it, changing a couple of questions and adding a few more.

          It sounds like we’re splitting hairs over the word “use”, and my apologies for overlooking that California will use Static 99R exclusively. While it might make for an interesting philosophical debate, it won’t change the fact that a tiered sex offender registry – whether based on offense, risk, offender/victim social status, or a tarot card reading – will accomplish nothing regarding how registrants are perceived by the public, potential employers/landlords, the media, or their parole/probation officers.

          Again, a tiered registry is merely the illusion of fairness and reason while maintaining the status quo, as shown by the states that have been using one for years. Nothing short of sledgehammer-induced hypnosis will change my opinion about that.

  4. Eric

    This is good, more and more people becoming vocal on this subject. The registry is based on emotions and hysteria, and it has no factual evidence to justify it or to verify if it works.

    • Dustin

      Eric,

      Actually, all empirical evidence indicates the registry does not work. Early opponents of public notification have since been proven correct, and they were ignored. Hysteria, of course, is the reason the public registry was created in the first place, and remains the only justification to retain it.

      The registry is typical of a government solution. It does nothing to solve a grossly exaggerated problem, causes numerous other problems, and more efforts are spent trying to fix the solution rather than fix the original problem.

      Metaphorically speaking, it’s like taking a car, removing the tires and engine, filling the trunk with lead, and claiming it runs better without any input from or ignoring manufacturers and mechanics. When the car doesn’t move, put a giant blocks of cement where the engine was and tires were. When the car still doesn’t move, have a sculptor modify the block under the hood to an abstract rendition of something that looks sort of like an engine and make pyramids of the ones where the tires were. When the car doesn’t move after that, consider replacing the original tires and engine, but don’t. If the day ever comes where an actual engine and tires must be replaced, ensure there is no gas, the tires are flat, and the car is pointing uphill.

  5. Staci

    All of the comments about SO therapy is dead on. My spouse is currently in the throes of it now and it is all about shaming and demeaning the individual. To make a long story short, my spouse always struggled with depression but never sought help. Depression is his main struggle and he told his therapist that in a one-on-one session and even though he has lost about 45 pounds in the past few months (and has never been a larger person) the therapist has never expressed concern about either of those things! And I have to mention that the judge recognized that the issue was addictive behavior in general and not an SO issue and stated he did not have to attend SO therapy; however, the PO is making him (who also has never mentioned the weight loss or depression). These “therapists” are not there to actually help anyone. We are living in separate houses right now because we live near a school and are trying to wait until our children are finished with high school. I had to have a family member move in with my spouse because I am worried about his state of mind. We had two blows this past week with one being that my spouse could not take a promotion at work (which would get him off his feet some and give us more income as we have to have two residences now) because he would have to enter some data into a computer and his therapist doesn’t think that is a good idea. His background is in IT and nothing ever occurred at his job. Honestly, we are both at our breaking point right now. I am so thankful for sites like this as well as those individuals who are fighting for us.

    • CR

      I’m sorry to hear about what your husband is going through. I’m sure it is hard on you too.

      I’m not one to suggest that all therapy is bad. I learned many things that helped me. But there were ideas I discarded as being simply wrong. Along the way, I learned it was not a good idea to dispute everything I disagreed with.

      So your husband may also find that there are some aspects of therapy that are useful and good, some ways of thinking that are helpful. He can take those things to heart, maybe learn a little about himself, and become a better person.

      He may also find that there are ideas promulgated by his therapist that are totally off the mark, not helpful, or that are demeaning and dehumanizing. He should try to perceive what is needed to satisfy the therapist, who is doubtless reporting on him to probation or parole. He may need to profess and abide by certain things that he doesn’t fully agree with to get through it. But he needn’t take anything that isn’t helpful to heart.

    • AJ

      @Staci:
      IDK what state you’re in, but I don’t see how the PO can impose therapeutic requirements beyond what’s in the sentencing order. In my State, the only the the PO could do was what was specifically stated in the document signed by the judge. It may not be worth the fight for your hubby, but he may want to check with his attorney about it.

    • Empathize With You

      If it’s anything like the Sharper Future scam, the “treatment” was administered by “unlicensed clinicians.” In fact, when I was in mandated treatment, never did I have a session with a licensed professional. Only in the containment meetings did the licensed staff show up. Also, the licensed staff wrote all the written reports. So the way that CDCR and the P.O. saw it, it appeared that all the “treatment” was given by licensed pros. I guess they get away with it… but it makes me wonder if Sharper Future was charging the state full rate (since all the grunt work was being done by unlicensed trainees).

      Anyway, when I was attending, I was working a near minimum wage job (40-plus hours per week). Since roughly 15 percent of my pay was going to taxes, it was especially upsetting to know that at least part of my taxes were being used to fund the Sharper Future scheme. Also, much of the time spent in the program was spent watching Hollywood movies. The polygraph exams and other shenanigans were especially ridiculous. As for the polygraph exam, here is a good link:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nyDMoGjKvNk

      It’s junk science, just like almost everything else Sharper Future uses.

      • Staci

        Thank you so much for your reply as well as the link to the video. I loved watching it! You see, that was the second blow we had that week. My husband failed the polygraph test that we had to pay $220 to have administered. I knew he would and he will continue to fail them even when he is 90 years old–not because he has done anything but because he becomes nervous and is ashamed about everything and that will not change.

    • Dustin

      Staci,

      First off, I’m not a lawyer, psychologist, or scientist of any kind. I am the grandson of a rocket scientist and former intelligence analyst who’s probably more well-read than most. I have a long history of un-apologetically stepping on authoritative toes and, wisely or not, have willingly accepted repercussions, fought those as well, and will continue to do so despite many failures, past and future. Please take what’s written below accordingly.

      POs play on the fear of going back to prison to overstep their authority frequently. Many (if not all) don’t even know how much authority they have. If it were me, I’d disregard that order from the PO and dare him to violate me for it. He knows full well he can’t arbitrarily add conditions, especially if they are in conflict with the terms the judge set out. If the judge said your husband doesn’t have to attend SO therapy, the PO can’t override that. In particular, if he didn’t order your husband to return to therapy IN WRITING, he can’t enforce it.

      Complain directly to the judge, pointing out that the PO undermined (use that word) the judge by forcing your husband back into the very same program that he (the judge) had just released your husband from. I’m presuming the PO forbade him from accepting the promotion you mentioned based on the recommendation of the therapist. If so, tell the judge that, too.

      Look into submitting a formal grievance against that PO, starting with the Chief PO. Do it all in writing; a paper trail is critical. Odds are, there’s no formal procedure and you’ll be told he’ll look into it. Don’t be satisfied with his response. That won’t be hard – it’ll basically mean he’s doing nothing, no matter how he words it. From there, go up the chain to the state level parole/probation office and add the inaction of the lower office(s). After that, your state congressman and senator.

      Be prepared for blowback from the PO or whoever replaces him (often a new PO will be assigned when formal complaints are brought). But assuming your husband isn’t doing anything he shouldn’t, it’ll just be a little more harassment like more home searches or increased drug screenings. Check the laws in your state to see if you can record them if/when that happens (most states are single-party consent on that and don’t require informing the other party, contrary to popular opinion) and look for hints and indications that it’s occurring because of your complaint.

      Especially document frequency and intensity. For example, force them to explain why home searches were a quick walk through the kitchen and living room once a month were adequate prior to the complaint but a thorough tossing of furniture, digging through drawers, and such every other day became necessary after.

      Most definitely submit formal complaints to the state licensing office (usually the department of health or one of their divisions – you may have to research it a bit) of the therapists’ employer, and whatever government or private accreditation offices and associations the employer is a member of. Look into the credentials of the therapist as well; many companies substitute “counselors” to cut costs. Most don’t have a problem with students and counselors conducting group sessions and collecting data and such, but specifically forbid them from advising, diagnosing, etc. You may have grounds to sue them, but you have to go through these nut rolls first. Going by what you wrote above, it would help a civil suit if you bring one.

      In short, make an enormous nuisance of yourself.

      It sounds like your husband rolls over and takes whatever is thrown at him. He’ll never stand up for himself if he doesn’t get mad at some point, and he’s much more likely to get mad at you initially. Facilitate that, then redirect his anger toward those that are kicking him while he’s down. It ought to help with his depression as well. Lord knows it won’t be easy, but well worth the effort in the long run. Best of luck to both of you.

      • Staci

        Thank you, Dustin, for your detailed response. You are absolutely correct on several levels. First, my husband is the type to take whatever is thrown at him. I am the one who wants to fight back. I don’t have a problem with my husband having a punishment for his crime; I have a problem with the punishment not fitting the “crime” and the punishment never ending. One area where I wish we had fought back was my spouse staying in our home. There was a state Supreme Court Case where it was ruled that if you lived in your home prior to 2006 you could stay in your home (and that is on the Missouri State Highway Patrol website). However, the county sheriff said we could not. I called the MSHP and questioned it. I was told that there was then another case and it was decided that the local sheriff could decide (that info is not on the website). I will say that when I said that I didn’t understand this policy the person on the other end said that the MSHP did not understand it either. My husband did not want to fight it because he was going to his own group therapy before the state mandated therapy and someone from our area had fought some of the restrictions and local law enforcement made his life a living hell.

        Second, yes, the PO plays on the fear of prison. We are both so paranoid right now. In fact, I am a nervous wreck about even posting on these sites. I did do some research and even though the judge did not put it on his probation rules our state does mandate it (again not looking at each individual but lumping everyone together in the punishment). I have tried to find information on the therapist before but didn’t find any. I will continue to dig into the therapist’s credentials.

        I always learn so much from these sites and appreciate how knowledgeable everyone is.

        • Dustin

          Staci,

          First, don’t be afraid of doing anything to help your family, get mad. Anger is much more useful than fear or despair and a thousand times more likely to change your circumstances. Granted, it may not be an ideal or even positive change, but meekness never stops or even reduces abuse – it only invites more. And the sooner you and your husband reach your breaking point – individual and collective – the better, and I hope that point isn’t too far off.

          I’m presuming your husband is on probation, going by your references to the judge. It’s a very important distinction, as parole terms are decided by the corrections department, not the judge, and there is very little a parolee can do contest terms.

          Again, talk to the judge. A formal hearing would be ideal (motion to modify probation terms), but if you’re fortunate enough to have a reasonable judge regarding sex offenses (and believe me, those judges are hard to come by), an informal meeting would work as well. Demand a formal hearing if the result of an informal meeting doesn’t produce positive results for you.

          If you rent your house, unfortunately there’s nothing you can do regarding where your husband lives. However, if you and your husband owned it prior to your husband’s conviction, the sheriff cannot forbid your husband from living there.

          While the sheriff is authorized/mandated to designate areas where SOs can live or work, he doesn’t have the authority to override the law that allows them to live in houses they’ve owned prior to conviction. That provision was never overruled in any state court to my knowledge. If it was, it could only have applied to that specific case and its circumstances which, I’m sure were far more extreme than your husband’s.

          Regarding treatment, first see if the law actually requires or simply allows it. Again, a very important distinction. Most state probation laws rarely actually obligate a judge to impose anything regarding probation terms in order to give wide latitude to tailor them to each case. Point out that he had previously relieved your husband from treatment and was UNDERMINED (can’t stress enough the importance of using that word) by the PO when he required your husband to return to the PO’s program and ask him to put it in writing.

          In the alternative, ask if the other group your husband is in would satisfy the court and point out that he will continue that program regardless. You’d likely be told that program wasn’t approved by the PO, so set the scene for the PO to explain why.

          Polygraphs will likely be a major part of this argument; explain the ordeal with those. Most states reject the supposed validity of polygraphs so courts are reluctant to order them directly. Polygraph obligations are usually by proxy – ordering to a treatment program that requires them.

          And finally, when asked if you have any other concerns or issues, tell him you expect repercussions from the probation office in response to this action and respectfully be dissuaded by the court’s assertion that you won’t.

          Again, I’m not a lawyer. Just the well-read grandson of a rocket scientist with confrontational tendencies toward authority. There are a lot of details in your circumstances that I am not aware of that would probably make a lot of difference in my suggestions, for whatever they are worth. I’m more than willing to talk privately if you’d like. ACSOL doesn’t post contact info and may delete posts that include it, but we can figure out a way to get in touch if you choose.

          Again, best of luck to you regardless of your course of action.

    • Tim Moore

      Sounds a lot like what my wife and I went through, but I think therapy was a lot different 15 years ago. Then, therapist and probation officer not only recognized depression but encouraged treating depression, but also encouraged inmates to strive to improve their economic situations by applying for jobs and striving for higher positions. I am calling us inmates instead of patients, because basically we were not there for our own improvement, but for the protection of the victim. That was still true back then. Still, the system did seem to recognize what had been known before then and after then to this day, that preventing crime involves providing the opportunity for former offenders to treat their physical and emotional needs. The therapists had encouraged me to fight for my job at an institution of higher learning and had helped modify another’s conditions of probation so that he can travel internationally for work. These are just some examples. I doubt that such things are possible now because of new laws and practices. There were also examples of what I thought were abuses of shaming and denigration, but it has appeared from reading many posts here that the therapy industry has evolved like the prison industry to be harsher on former offenders. This idea of the containment model, which was in its infancy when I was on paper, and there was still a lot of the helping model still in effect, at least where I was, has moved toward the extreme containment end.

      • David Kennerly, There But For the Grace Of Dog...

        That interesting Tim; do you mean it may actually be WORSE now than it was when I was in it a quarter century ago?

        • Tim Moore

          Well, I am reading the descriptions of how therapy is now and my term with the thought reformers almost two decades ago looks almost nostalgic.

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