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Kat’s Blog: Is Remorse a Requirement for Registrants?

Remorse: A gnawing distress arising from a sense of guilt for past wrongs, according to Merriam-Webster.

In a recent interview TV star Bill Cosby stated he was “not remorseful and did nothing wrong”, maintaining his innocence in the sexual assault crimes that were leveled against him in a well- known TV news media circus court case.

So what happens to those accused of sex offenses who maintain their innocence throughout their trials, prison sentences and even after they are set free? Where is the line in the sand drawn between those who staunchly maintain their innocence and those” sex offender treatment providers” who insist offenders show remorse as a means of successfully progressing thru treatment?

From all that’s been written about Bill Cosby’s case, his version and his accusers version, all we know for sure is that he has always maintained his interactions with his accusers were consensual and they have always insisted otherwise and that Mr. Cosby ended up on the losing end of the court battle.

Is a guilty verdict all that’s required for “sex offender treatment counselors” to insist that Mr. Cosby, or anyone else for that matter, express guilt and remorse for their actions? And, if one doesn’t accept and acknowledge those feelings in treatment, do counselors have the right to report that treatment hasn’t been successful or that the offender has failed to be rehabilitated? Does the fact the Mr. Cosby has always maintained his innocence and therefore sees no reason to express guilt or remorse even matter to his counselors?

Prison and parole “sex offender treatment programs” stress accountability for one’s actions, individual acceptance of the wrongs one has perpetrated on their victims. Offenders are urged to express feelings of empathy for those they have harmed, guilt and remorse for their actions. There are however inherent problems with these kinds of clinical expectations.

Granted, while some offenders may truly have feelings of guilt and remorse, some offenders, for a variety of mental health reasons, may never be capable of feeling those feelings. Some offenders are charged with not exhibiting sufficient remorse to satisfy their treatment counselors, while some will just learn to parrot exactly what their counselors want to hear in order to make progress and be done with treatment. Still, there are those like Bill Cosby whose belief in their innocence is so strong that they simply refuse, on principle, to express feelings they don’t feel are theirs to own. While clinically this refusal to show remorse shouldn’t be held against a person who proclaims their innocence, it doesn’t fly very well in the “sex offender treatment system” and will almost certainly delay a registrant’s completing treatment in a timely manner.

Expecting a pat, standard set of feelings and emotions to be expressed by “sex offenders” as a means to gauge their success or failure in treatment is ridiculous. This is another example of treating all offenders labeled “sex offender” exactly the same. In “sex offender group therapy” providers often mistakenly treat the label, not the individual, and assume all “sex offenders” are equally guilty of crimes that require expressions of “guilt and remorse” as a kind of emotional payment for their sins.

It seems there is no “client maintains he is innocent” box to check off on generic treatment plan forms.

Is remorse a rehabilitation requirement for any other offense?

Join the discussion

  1. Azkenean Dohainik

    The question is asked… “Does the fact the Mr. Cosby has always maintained his innocence and therefore sees no reason to express guilt or remorse even matter to his counselors?”

    Yes, it “does matter.” As a person who was recently represented by an attorney (you see him sometimes on CNN), after multiple mistrials; I accepted a “deal,” that was “to my liking,” that required (temporary) registration and counseling while on probation.

    Essentially, your probation officer and counselor get hard copies of all the pretrial “information.” They have no knowledge of court transcripts, evidence or testimony. You in-effect, have the opportunity to shape how they treat you, as if you were given another chance at a bench trial. If you make a compelling case; they will not try to hinder your progress in any manner.

    • Dustin

      In my experience, POs don’t bother reading any information about the facts or circumstances resulting in someone’s supervision. Nor do they read plea hearing or trial transcripts. If anything, all they look at is the sentence disposition, regardless of what’s available to them.

      “Treatment” providers base their opinions on their initial assessments, which will always conclude that the person needs “treatment” no matter what they say or don’t say. How much “treatment” is needed and for how long is determined by the probation office, whose conclusions carry the day on the rare instances where there is disagreement between the provider and PO.

      Will is slightly incorrect – drug and alcohol offenders are also sentenced to “treatment”; SOR “treatment” is actually based on the same behavior modification model. Such wonderful results too, as the same people keep running in and out of drug courts every year, and are continually sentenced to the same ineffective “treatment.” The difference with SOR cases is that in the overwhelming majority, there’s no mental illness to “treat” in the first place and in the small minority of cases where there are, the “treatment” ordered is not the treatment required.

      There’s a reason I put the word “treatment” in quotes throughout this post. The ordered programs have nothing to do with community safety or the betterment of the individual. It’s merely a means of additional (or to substitute for) supervision, to impose more penalties and burdens on registrants, attempts to press more charges or violations, and occasionally to line the pockets of the court’s/PO’s friends or business associates.

      Regarding remorse, it should also be mentioned that lack of remorse is the usual excuse judges give to impose heavier sentences on defendants who refuse guilty pleas and opt for full trial. Also consider in this day and age, an accusation alone is considered sufficient proof of guilt, even if the defendant’s innocence can actually proven.

      • RegistrantNotAnOffender

        Spot on. My PO had me disclose to my chaperone, only thing she let her see is the probable cause statement by a biased police officer. Not the judgement which actually matters.

        • Will Allen

          Get whatever papers you want and show them to people.

          Personally, in the police reports of which I know the truth, I’ve seen that police are a lot worse than just biased. They blatantly and intentionally lied. It couldn’t even be excused as them only stating a biased version. It was just lying.

      • Will Allen

        Sure, I’m aware that drug and alcohol offenders are sentenced to therapy. Seems the difference is that the therapy is not really for the crime. Drug usage should not even be a crime.

        I want to see someone sentenced to years of “therapy” for robbing a bank. I want to hear about their remorse. I want to see people in therapy for shooting people. Or I guess that is all just normal behavior.

  2. Will Allen

    If a person is innocent it would be immoral for them to say otherwise and they should obviously have no remorse.

    Do people actually complete treatment? I thought the point was that the providers drag “clients” along for as long as they are able to get away with it. If profits were removed from therapy, it might have some legitimacy. As it is, it doesn’t.

    It is outrageous that “therapy” is only ordered for $EX crimes. That makes it theft.

    Regardless if a person felt remorse at one time, the Registries will end it.

    • Paul

      I have so much to say about the court-mandated therapy. I have a dozen pages of notes on Sharper Future and others. As one ex-prosecutor and now current therapist put it to me, “sex offender” treatment is a criminal racket! Who wants to hear my story? May I publish it on this website? Should I communicate with Janice?

      • Moderator

        Feel free to submit your story for consideration under the “Living with 290” category. Link on the main menu. ***Moderator***

    • Dex

      @ Will Allen: I would agree with you – if the individual had any remorse, the Registry would put an end to that. As for me, I was incarcerated for 4 years. During the first two, I felt every type of guilt, remorse, shame and regret possible. But that was it – after those first two years, it was punishment without purpose, leading to bitterness and resentment. So it’s difficult for me to create a false facade of contrition. If I felt any guilt before, it’s certainly gone now. I have more than paid for all of my transgressions. 😡

  3. Marie

    Is remorse a rehabilitation requirement for any other offense?

    Not that I know of, nor should it be. Requiring remorse is a kind of thought control. Even terrible criminals who have served their sentences ought to be left alone to think and feel however they want.

    • Bruce Ferrell

      Actually, remorse and an understanding of the harm caused IS a part of what parole boards look for before granting.

      A “requirement”, no. But exhibit none and you’ll do the whole time. You may do that anyway, depending.

      • Dex

        Yeah, that’s ridiculous! Remorse can easily be faked. They might just as well have someone write 1,000 times on the blackboard “I was naughty and I will not do it again.” At least then, there would be something quantifiable. How do you measure remorse… count the fallen tears, the letters sent begging for forgiveness, the pages completed in a treatment workbook?? Use a pseudo-science phony polygraph? All are ridiculous and laughable.

  4. KM

    My lawyer always said no one can make you say anything and that any legal requirement to make you say something is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment.

    • Chris f

      Of course, following that advise through probation and treatment will just mean you end up in weekly sex offender therapy for the duration and maximum restrictions with few liberties.

      Or…you can learn to play their little game and be done with weekly group and able to attend church, concerts, sporting events and travel anywhere with notice and little restrictions after about 2 years.

      I watched those playing hardball with their PO or therapist spend a full 10 years of probation with the same restrictions and frequency of therapy and supervision as day 1. Take an acting class if you cant get through the hoops.

  5. Steve D

    Prisoners are commonly denied parole if they do not show remorse when before a parole board. And, as in the Cosby situation, this is a real issue for those who have professed innocence of the charge against them.

    • Timothy

      In reality the wrongfully convicted and factually innocent each suffer more punishment since they refuse to admit guilt. Refusal to attend ” treatment” results in threats of incarceration or loss of privelidge. Some DOC agents perceive the refusal as having a hard case attitude and use the notion to inject their own ” therapy”. I was fortunate to have a few DOC agents who figured it out my conviction was unsound. Though I told many, few would listen and check facts.

  6. Ron

    Truth, logic Nad. Understanding have nothing to do with rehabilitation. You must comply. You must be assimilated. –
    Welcome to re-education camps in the USA

  7. Timothy

    There can be no crime more egregious act upon humanity than to make man subservient to machine by law. We were founded as a RE:PUBLICA.

    TODAY WE ARE RE:MACHINA (DATABASE) for (an ever expanding) some, according to some by “Law” type ratified incongruous to staying whole.
    Filling out a compelled registration form is speech. How else can agents get your internet IDs?
    Federal Surveillance Saints, perhaps?

    Who would, and has, benefited most from the “unfettered use of the people’s databases”?
    The people whole, or Some of the people?

  8. Billy Jack

    Am I sorry for finding some bad things on the Internet and looking, sure I’m so so sorry. Does that make society and politicians feel better? Now that I’m sorry, may I move on with my life, get a decent job, find a decent place to live, carry on being the same good person I was and have been?

    No!

  9. Facts should matter

    It actually doesn’t matter. No amount of contrition will change our oppressors’ minds. I don’t need societies’ forgiveness, understanding or acceptance, much less their approval or validation.

    Love will not change their minds, much less win them over.

  10. Bob

    I think all you need to do is to search for all the cases that people are violated for being discharged from their treatment program. There are alot of cases that people refuse to admit guilt and are kicked out. Pleading the fifth apparently didnt help, since they were already convicted of didnt apply.

    I have always wondered why treatment was allowed to create restrictions harsher that what people are sentance to.

    Why for certain offenders a certificate of completion is not available.

    Why, if treatment is so effective, that no one is release from it before their supervision itself is up.

    Or, how questions on the polygraph are directly related to conditions of release and not treatment…

    Not many (any?) advocates for those on supervision.

    • Dustin

      @ Bob,

      I was violated last year; kicked out of “treatment” because I couldn’t afford another polygraph after “failing” one (polygrapher insisted I watch porn, not true). The fact that I reported him to all polygraph associations that he’s a member of and the Better Business Bureau the year before for incompetence, I’m assured, had nothing to do with his assessment. Not to mention my PO at the time is my sentencing judge’s nephew.

      Fighting all that nonsense now, but thinking I may have to finish all state routes and go federal. Not an easy task for pro se litigation, and hiring an attorney is financially impossible.

      • RegistrantNotAnOffender

        What was your sanction for the violation?

        • Dustin

          4 months in PDC. Actually served 6 because they wouldn’t credit the time served waiting for bed space (also illegal).

  11. NY won’t let go

    My PO and the treatment people didn’t even read my presentence report where the judge and prosecutor agreed that the female was lying but due to my age vs her actual age I was still guilty by the law even though I had not known I was breaking the law since she had said she was older, so they offered me a plea to something completely different.

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