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Kat’s Blog: Death of a Registrant: Two Different Perspectives

The recent heart attack and subsequent death of a registrant who attended a “sex offender” treatment group for the past decade brought about two vastly different perspectives on his passing.

The group counselors were emotional and grief stricken. They expressed their concern about how to break the news to the group. They offered group time or individual time to help any registrant that needed to process feelings of sadness. The counselors emotions stemmed from the notion that this was “someone they had grown to know over the years” and that they could understand what the group must be feeling. They wanted to elicit a sympathetic reaction from the group.

And here is where the disconnect between counselors and registrants comes in.

The counselors couldn’t have been more off base in thinking they knew what the group was feeling.

The registrants attending this “sex offender” treatment group didn’t feel that they knew this person. They only knew his “situation” as they tend to call it. They knew his name, his offense and whatever other information he gave when forced to talk about his issues in group. That is hardly “knowing” someone.

“He seemed like a decent enough guy” was the general consensus of the group. But no one really knew him. How can any registrant know another registrant when fraternization “outside” of the treatment group setting is strictly prohibited.

“Sex offender” treatment groups are a bizarre little microcosm. Registrants are expected to spill their guts about the most stupid, serious, awful, horrific errors they’ve made in their lives to a group of total strangers. These strangers are then supposed to provide the registrant with emotional support on their journey towards rehabilitation. The irony is that you have contact with these people for an hour a week and that contact begins and ends at the door of the group meeting place. These aren’t your friends, you don’t socialize outside of the group, you don’t call or text each other, you don’t know their families and you’ve never been to their homes. These people are only hostages as you are, attending court mandated treatment. You certainly haven’t “grown to know them” over the years.

And death is viewed differently by many registrants who have served prison time.

Deaths of “cellies” either natural or by suicide or homicide is not unknown to them. Prison hardens a person. It has to. It’s the only way you survive. Everyday across this country cellmates die for a variety of reasons. Grieving that might be mistaken as a sign of weakness can’t happen. It’s just another day, another inmate when you’re in prison. Someone else leaving out the front door or back. This is what prison does to people. It changes them. And yet counselors still expect “normal” sympathetic reactions from former inmates once they’re out.

To the counselors, the group’s reaction or non-reaction to the death of “one of their own” may have seemed harsh, cold and uncaring. But this telling comment by the group accurately summed up what they were really feeling.

“At least he doesn’t have to come to this damn group anymore.”

 

Join the discussion

  1. Bill

    Watching someone with cancer, die, slowly while a judge refuses to release him from treatment until he was hospice hardens people as well.

    It’s been made clear these aren’t “support groups”, they are for containment. Their model, literally, the containment model.

    A real trauma or out-patient group is a safe place since everyone has confidentiality. That would be a huge help, but then the probation officer couldn’t direct treatment and have their probation questions on the “treatment” polygraph. Which, by the way, is now up to 4 questions for non sexual history polygraphs.

    And I couldnt agree more, at least he doesnt have to go anymore.

  2. Will Allen

    “$EX offender” therapy is nonsense. Is there anyone with a brain who thinks that someone who commits a $EX crime needs therapy but someone who points a gun in someone’s face does not? The fact that there is “therapy” only for $EX is just another indicator of the vast stupidity of the witch hunt. Its stupidity is widespread and complete.

    Not only that, but the “therapy” that I was involved in was nothing more than an extension of the probation/parole department and big government. I’m not going to engage with any people who work hand-in-hand with any big government probation/parole. I’m not going to deal with people who are only interested in “containing” me, “helping” society (and not worrying about or including me), and imprisoning me. So the “therapy” had to be worthless. But really, it was worse than just worthless. Made me want to harm people.

    Speaking of which, prisons obviously do change people. And the Registries continue the change. But the Registries change the people listed, spouses, children, friends, employers, and many other people. The Registries have freed me from any obligations that I had to be a good, contributing citizen in Amerika. I don’t have to worry about that any longer. That obligation belongs to people who are not listed on a big government harassment list. Sad.

    • You are correct, sir!

      You are 100% correct about 90% of us. Therapy is a farce is it is applied to most offenders.
      My “therapist” had lost her license in the past do to complaints from clients, but somehow was qualified for sex offender treatment.
      This treatment in my case amounted to her telling me it would pass, my situation ( social, financial, emotional) would improve, and that she was there for me. The sessions went from once a week to once a month when I told her I had no money to pay for the sessions. She never answered calls, and was always late for appointments. No follow ups since release, and the court had to petition her to provide a letter of completion.
      What a complete joke. While some might have some sort of success with their therapy, I hear of most not getting anything from it.
      Just a way to say to the public,”See, we care about you and are trying to “change” these terrible offenders “.

  3. Dustin

    A couple of points:

    1. Bill is absolutely correct. “Treatment” has nothing to do with rehabilitation or the betterment of the person. It’s strictly another means of supervision and effort to ensure the registrant spends his time running in and out of jail/prison.

    2. More often than not, “treatment” is unnecessary because there is no mental illness to treat in the first place. People do stupid things and make foolish choices; that is not mental illness. It’s like forcing someone to a psychiatrist for choosing a pumpkin pie over a salad.

    3. Even if the registrant in this story actually did require mental health treatment, he obviously wasn’t getting it from the group he was in if he was there for 10 years.

    4. Georgia has an entire title covering the legal requirements that a court must go through to impose involuntary mental health treatment, a litany of requirements to continue it, and the rights of the person being treated. The court’s treatment requirement doesn’t comply with any of it. Betting it’s similar in California.

    5. Presumably, the man’s been offense-free for the ten years he was in “treatment.” That should have been a pretty clear indication that “treatment” worked, if under the assumption that it was necessary to begin with. Betting the counselors would be pretty hard-pressed to therapeutically justify his remaining in their program for so long.

    6. That the PO must bless program completion should raise several red flags to the APA regarding the conduct of the treatment providers basically lending their resumes and credentials to LE diagnoses and treatment plans.

    7. Someone should address a court’s mandating polygraphs – either directly (mandatory probation term) or indirectly (only approving programs that require them) – knowing full well they’re inaccurate and subject to manipulation. And by address I mean in court.

    Just my thoughts, for what they’re worth. My next project is to dispute treatment and polygraph requirements as applied to my case.

    • waggs

      I fully agree with the polygraphs.

      also is the situation where someone has medical issues. I have mild Cerabal palsy. i can’t sit for more then 20 minutes without changing position. guess what that means? to the last poly examiner it was i was hiding something. even though i had been 100% up front with everything. yeah i was that idiot the lawyer tells you not to be.

      not to mention the damn things just don’t work. they aren’t admitted in court so why do they use them? well besides they get to charge you $200-400 a couple times a year.

      I also have major issues with the sex offender list (duy why i found this sight). It does nothing to me. im 45 and broken down.

      It does fuck with my kids. we had to move and were homeless for a month. right now we are living in a shithole appartment that is section 8. filled with druggies and gang members.

      they worry about the kids safty but make it hard to live in nice areas with that fucked up law..

    • RegistrantNotAnOffender

      In your state how do they treat failed polygraphs?

      Here they cannot violate you for failing a polygraph what happens is many people who fail end up admitting they lied. If you stick to your story there’s nothing they can do to you but then again you don’t pay for polygraphs here the DOC does.

      • Dustin

        In Georgia they’ll kick you out of the treatment program, then violate your parole/probation for not completing it. Happened to me last year (“failed” then they wanted another, which I couldn’t afford). I’m currently trying to appeal that but had a hangup – have to appeal within 30 days of the ruling, but couldn’t because the county jail won’t let inmates use ink pens. Out of time appeal was rejected by the trial court (not surprising). Appeal of THAT at the Court of Appeals now. Should have word in about three weeks.

  4. waggs

    I disagree with will allen.

    I am in group with a few guys. while a lower tier support group (worst is downloading CP no molestation and only underage sex was a 18 and 16 yr old..how he got busted..ugh). the counselor is great.

    We not only talk about what got us arrested we talk about life in general and how we can improve our mental health. Also the legalities of what we can and can not do and what we must do.

    I been in it 2.5 years. the last half year i have gone voluntary. I don’t need to go but i want to. being around others in my situation has helped me understand what and why. not to mention how to combat the feeling of wanting to continue in it.

    I had tried to stop myself from doing it. I failed time and time again. Hell i even went and tried to find someone to help me but the counseling places told me they would have to call the cops and turn me in. To find someone that wanted to and knew how to help has helped me a ton.

    Though i have heard of horror stories about some counselors. Where they did more harm then good. I think i was lucky on where i am.

  5. AO

    Every time I read something like this, it makes me feel all the luckier having been part of the program that I was, and more respect for the man that runs it. My experience was very positive and helpful. Not helpful in regards to “curing” me, but helpful more generally with things I was dealing with in my life even before the arrest. It was also heartening seeing the program director constantly come to bat for everyone in the program every time the PO’s and even lawmakers would try to make things more difficult for us.

  6. Facts should matter

    I’m sure that “counselor” feigned concern and manufactured empathy just to gauge a response from the group. They actually don’t care as that empty seat will be filled with a new subservient zombie.

    Money over humanity.

    • Anonymous

      The group leader where I have to attend, recently announced that they will no longer write “good progress” or “positive” reports for us when we go to the judge asking for reductions in probation restrictions.
      I got very agitated, stating out loud that said group leader has no problem writing bad reports!!!! WTF!!!!

  7. Anonymous

    Attended for a Decade?? What?

  8. New York Level 1

    I’m in the interesting spot of having experienced both sides of this: a great therapist and an awful one.

    My first therapist in VA was great: we had one-on-one sessions, which I paid for, but her group sessions we’re limited to four plus the therapist and they seemed to really be empathetic and involved too.

    April pushed me to build a really strong foundation from my recovery (my issue is sexual compulsivity/sex addiction). And she went to bat for me too. In addition to really providing me the space and encouragement to understand how I had gotten to where I had gotten, she also was like “we’re going to focus on getting you to a place where you can use the internet healthily, so that we can petition the court to restore your access to the internet at home. It’s the 21st century, limited access to the internet is going to harm your ability to rebuild your life”.

    Compare that to NY. No private sessions allowed, an average of 15 people a session. And compassion? A desire to understand my mental state and circumstances? Let me put it this way: when I shared how humiliating it was to get visited by the police every Halloween, my therapist responded, “you better be compliant, in NYC they’ll show up in body armor and shotguns” (no one ever showed up in NYC). I stopped being so forthright with my emotional struggles after that.

    Oh, and he blamed black culture (“urban culture”) for being a bad influence on the minorities in our group when they shared their struggles, and he didn’t challenge the straight men who referred to women as “females”. Uuugh.

    He did immense damage to my recovery that it took a lot of time to correct.

    • RegistrantNotAnOffender

      Yeah same experience the first three months were all one-on-one and group is only up to four. If someone is doing groups of 15 men at a time I would call it even more of a money grab.

      • Matt

        Some of the best counseling I have ever recived was from this guys book. His name is Chris Voss. While initially you may think it’s not for you FOR ONE REASON OR ANOTHER, I have never heard advice that is so easy to implement quickly and effectively practice. This guys tips turned my interactions with my PO and mandated Group Therapy in my favor by giving me an edge to my communication skills. Nobody can tell you how to deal with this shit we wade in daily. I just wanted to share the impact its had on me and hope others out there could benefit the same.
        https://youtu.be/1Wi4c-7lM8o

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