Kat’s Blog: Polygraphs and Plethysmographs During a Pandemic

CDC Recommendations. Social distancing. Masks. Stay at home.

Just like the registry and its restraints, little thought was given as to how registrants would be able to follow these guidelines. Masks, anything that alters or changes appearance are a no-no for registrants. Registering in person was an obligation. Polygraphs, plethysmographs weren’t optional.

For safety’s sake, no one could register cars or apply for other licenses in person. For safety’s sake, we couldn’t do the million and one things that we usually did in person, every day. And yet, advocates for registrants had to file lawsuits in order for registrants to be relieved of having to register in person, a safety measure that everyone else seemed to have received, automatically.

Are there social distancing guidelines for polygraphs and those ridiculously invasive plethysmographs? Has any thought been put into how that will happen?   There are registrants on parole, in sex offender treatment groups, in treatment aftercare, that are still being required to submit to contact, invasive and in many cases, not immediately necessary tests even during the pandemic. And for what? To satisfy some box that needs to be checked-off on a P.O or counselor’s checklist, for “6-month polygraph” or “annual plethysmography?” Or is it because the state has a contract with the polygraph or plethysmography company to do X number of tests per year and come hell or high water or pandemic, that’s what they’re going to do.

How will polygraph technicians maintain six feet of social distancing? Will they be using “extra-long” leads to hook up registrants?  Will registrants be allowed to wear masks for their protection during testing? And how exactly will plethysmography technicians maintain their social distance during this “unnatural” and “socially-invasive” test?

Tests are conducted in small, confined rooms, there is close contact with technicians. Registrants have no idea where those technicians have been, who they’ve been in contact with, if they’re “virus-free”. In one area of Tennessee for instance, the polygraph technicians hail from a company located in Mississippi. Should registrants have the right to not be “intentionally exposed” to technicians coming from another state, especially if that state has a much higher rate of virus than their own state?

The worst-case-scenario will come when a registrant needlessly contracts the coronavirus from a technician during a test that wasn’t necessary in the midst of the pandemic. The virus will get spread to the registrant’s family, friends and co-workers. And people will die.

And for what?

Polygraphs are less than 100% accurate. The validity of plethysmography has been disputed by reputable medical professionals. And, in both in cases, the test results are inadmissible in court.

If in-person registration put registrants at risk, imagine the risks associated with contact testing!


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From my personal experience I can declare the Plythesmegraph “test” useless hogwash. As if one rubber band fits all! ..lol! As if a penis is always the same circumference as a baseline for science via measurements of delta ( change). What is worse is the humiliation experienced during the test. Maybe others feel different about it, but that’s how I felt.

Exploitation manifests in many forms so when I demanded the results of my first test be discussed in the group ( unit) setting, I got the craziest looks from Psych staff who quickly insisted it was the wrong setting. I made a fuss and took issue with the rules they themselves made which clearly permitted it as ” any issue related to you or your offense. ” That was the first time I got kicked from ” treatment ” but not the last.

Just heard from a member in my group that polygraphs in San Diego are now $500 a piece….