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varkam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 02:46 AM
Original message
A case against mandatory life imprisonment or the death penalty for sex offenders
Edited on Mon Sep-24-07 02:47 AM by varkam
This thread was inspired by another thread on the subject, which can be found here.

As it is undoubtedly clear, there are some here who believe that sex offenders (or to be more specific, offenders who commit crimes against children) should be either sentenced to life without the possibility of parole or the death penalty (I'm guessing depending upon the specifics of the crime committed). This argument either (a) rests upon a number of mistaken assumptions which I will address or (b) is pure retribution dressed up in an argument resting upon a number of mistaken assumptions. A much better approach would be to take cases on an individual basis and avoid casting wide nets with laws such as this. It is my contention that such an approach would not only avoid undue incapacitation or specific deterrence, but if it were applied to other areas of the law as well (such as sex offender registration laws) would actually make society safer than it currently is.

To begin with, it seems appropriate to set out some definitions given that the terms like sex offender, child molester, and sex crime are all incredibly vague. When most people thing of a child molesting sex offender, the worst typically comes to mind. Indeed, this category does include individuals such as John Couey, who abducted, raped, and murder Jessica Lunsford. However it is also important to note that it also contains people such as William Elliott who, had sex with his 17 year old girlfriend while he was (I believe) 19. So it is important to keep in mind that these legalistic definitions run the gamut - encompassing all kinds of different people who have done all sorts of different things. Plus, if you broaden it to mean "sex offense against a child" - as the linked thread does, then you have anything from public urination to rape and murder. Applying a one-size-fits-all law to all child sex offenders makes little sense.

According to the Center for Sex Offender Management, an adjunct of the Department of Justice, recidivism rates for sex offenders are relatively low (around 11-15% over a five year follow-up) - especially when compared with other classes of criminals. The recidivism for many groups of offenders drops further once you look at them individually. For instance, the majority of sex offenses against a child are committed by someone that the child knows and trust (roughly 90%). The majority of those offenses (that is, excluding perpetrators who are unknown to the victim) are committed by family members. Intra-familial offenders are typically on the lower end of the risk scale for reoffense. They tend to be what is known as "situational" offenders in that they are not typically predators.

One-size-fits all laws such as this can do much more harm than good. Hypothetically, say that the law is altered to give mandatory offenders life sentences. That means everyone from William Elliott to John Couey goes away for life (or gets the death penalty). Also, given that the majority of these crimes are committed by family members it would also place additional burdens on that family. Moreover, stricter laws might discourage the reporting of ongoing abuse (for example, if a wife knows that her husband has abused their daughter, but doesn't want him to get the death penalty) which lessens the probability that the offender will seek some kind of treatment.

And finally, laws like these (including laws concerning sex offender registration) provide camouflage for people who truly are predators and need to simply be incapacitated. These laws are geared towards such individuals, but they represent a very small percentage of the whole. Another hypothetical: suppose that a predator is released into a community and, in accord with law, registers as a sex offender with police. Suppose further that there are (including this individual) 100 people on the local registry. It then falls to the police and public to be aware of these 100 people, but what if only this individual is an actual threat? While the percentage might be a bit off, it's not much of a stretch. In addition, Sheriff departments around the country are reporting that more offenders than ever are absconding from the registry due to increasing restrictions (read: no one knows where they are) and it is also not much of a stretch to believe that offenders would be more likely to murder their victims to avoid either life imprisonment or the death penalty themselves.

In closing, creating one-size-fits all laws for a very heterogeneous group makes little since from both a criminal justice and a public safety perspective. Cases should be handled on a case by case basis, where an individual is evaluated to determine his level of risk to the public and treated accordingly.

This is not to say that strangers do not commit sex crimes or that former offenders do not commit new sex crimes. It does happen. What it does mean, however, is that our collective focus is woefully misplaced. That is understandable, since these crimes arouse a great deal of emotion in people (and they should). What I fear, however, is that we are allowing our desire for retribution overshadow the sense of fairness that is the bedrock of American jurisprudence. In many cases, deterrence, affirming of social norms, and retribution are all appropriate in the criminal justice system. However, it is also my contention that laws such as this seek to make retribution the primary justification of criminal justice. If that is the case, it would certainly be less disingenuous if they just came out and said it as opposed to pushing for ever increasing punishment under the guise of protecting the children.

Edited for spelling.
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Mythsaje Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 02:58 AM
Response to Original message
1. As with most things
it's not as simply black and white as it may at first appear. Better definitions are necessary before we even START to consider harsher penalties. A 19 y.o. having sex with his 17 y.o. girlfriend is NOT the danger to society that a sociopathic pedophile type would be... For that matter, I don't think someone who preys on REAL children is the same as a loser in his late twenties who likes teenagers. Loser, yes. Pedophile? Not literally. (I use this example because my wife dated a guy who was 29 when she was 15--I think she'd argue that SHE is no worse for it and I'm not stupid enough to weigh in on the question). Now why a 29 y.o. guy would WANT to date a 15 y.o. girl (even one who was emancipated and independent) I'm not sure, but that's another question entirely.

A streaker could easily be charged with a sex crime and wear the burden for the rest of his life when, in all reality, not thirty years ago he would've just been smacked down for being a dumbass.

I really, really distrust absolutes. Especially when real lives hang in the balance.
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varkam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 03:01 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. Yes, precisely.
And, for the record, streakers have been charged with sex crimes and placed on the registry. In one incident detailed in the HRW report, a high school teenager mooned a class of females, was charged with indecent exposure, and placed on the registry. He subsequently committed suicide.
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Mythsaje Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 03:05 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. Yeah... I used that example deliberately...
I was mooned by girls/women when I was a teenager. THEY could, now, be considered sexual predators under current laws. Or so I would think.
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varkam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 01:27 PM
Response to Reply #3
19. Indeed.
In several states they could be required to register as sex offenders.
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kdmorris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 04:33 AM
Response to Original message
4. That case of William Elliot is sad
Edited on Mon Sep-24-07 04:47 AM by kdmorris
Had sex with a girl 2 years younger than him, then killed by a nutball vigilante because he was on the list.

Why is THIS the only crime for which we have a "registry"? Why not thieves, murderers? What ever happened to the notion that you pay your price to society and then get out?

With this, you are FOREVER paying the price. People on this registry have been run out of town, beaten and even killed in the name of "justice". And as you say, 90% of these crimes are committed by someone who is NOT a danger to society.

Edit to add link: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=53...
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varkam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 01:29 PM
Response to Reply #4
20. I didn't say that 90% of these crimes are committed by someone...
...who is not a danger to society. Perhaps this is just a typo on your part. 90% of these crimes are committed by someone who, definitionally so, is a danger as they are committing these crimes. But most of these crimes are not committed by strangers (e.g. people on the registry).

But you raise another important issue regarding the registry: for those who are required to register for life, they are required to continue to pay regardless of steps that they have taken to correct their own behavior. They will always be regarded as a threat.
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kdmorris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 03:15 PM
Response to Reply #20
29. DOH!
Yes, I meant, 90% are committed by familiar person. What I was trying to say is that it's not as likely for the people on the registry to be a danger to your child as it is for your own uncle.

Oh, hell, you still said it better than I did. I really need some coffee, I think!
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varkam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 03:27 PM
Response to Reply #29
31. You and me both, friend.
I just got a new kind of coffee I'm dying to try out. Come to think of it, I think I'll go fire up the coffee maker...
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Greyhound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 05:47 AM
Response to Original message
5. I agree with you for several reasons, first and foremost is my position that the death penalty is
always wrong and serves no purpose other than to satisfy people's desire for revenge.

The Puritanical elements of our society have always held far too much sway in dictating America's "morality" and the nearly endless list of offenses classified as sexual is ample evidence of this. To persecute everyone that has had this label hung around their necks is unconscionable.

The one exception to a life sentence I would consider is that of pedophiles, and in those cases I think that there are much more reasonable alternatives to the brutality of our current prison system. The problem with them is that it seems to be pathological and therefore the recidivism rate is nearly 100%. These people must be removed from the presence of children, forever.
:kick: & R


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varkam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 01:31 PM
Response to Reply #5
21. As I noted in the post, recidivism rates...
are not "nearly 100%". In fact they are lower for sex offenders than for any other class of criminal. There is a certain sub-group of sex offenders, though, that have a higher re-offense rate (I think maybe around 40% over a five-year follow-up), and those should certainly be taken on a case by case basis.
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Greyhound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 02:35 PM
Response to Reply #21
25. I didn't say anything about recidivism rates for "sexual offenders", only that of
pedophiles, which, according to this study published in the Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, and used in this report to the 38th parliament, the rate is 94%.

There are dozens of similar studies going back over 40 years that show similar results. Pedophilia has always had the highest recidivism rate of any crime, and that is only those that are caught. It is pathological they just don't stop, are incapable of stopping themselves.

The classification of "sexual offenders" includes everything from pedophilia to homosexuality to someone caught taking a leak in the alley, and is completely variable on a community by community basis.



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varkam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 02:51 PM
Response to Reply #25
26. Nevermind that you didn't actually link to a study.
Edited on Mon Sep-24-07 02:58 PM by varkam
But rather to a politician's website, I can't actually read the study, and so I cannot comment on it's relative strengths or weaknesses. For instance, one question I have is how do they define "pedophile"? Is it one with a DSM-IV diagnosis of pedophilia? Is it one who has molested a child? Are they intra-familial offenders or approach pedophiles? How many subjects were involved in the analysis? Certainly there are sub-groups of offenders that have higher recidivism rates, but 90% seems incredible given all the studies that I have seen. I would be most interested in examining their methodology.

I can, however, again point you out to the CSOM (which is not a site with any political axes to grind). Again, they have meta-analyses on their website (that focus on child molesters) that seem to contradict your claims.

Edited to add: I decided to google the study to see if I could at least get ahold of an abstract. Quite by accident, I found this:

A recently published article by Langevin, Curnoe, Fedoroff, Bennett, Langevin, Peever, Pettica, and Sandhu (2004) reports a recidivism rate of 88.3% for sex offenders. A detailed analysis of the study demonstrates that this unusually high level is uninterpretable because the offenders whose criminal careers were followed are unlikely to be representative of sex offenders in general. Furthermore, the measure of recidivism used in the study not only distorts the normal meaning of recidivism but also artefactually creates an inflated and consequently meaningless recidivism rate.


They are commenting on the study that you are referring to.

Link
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Heidi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 07:24 AM
Response to Original message
6. Kick.
This is well worth discussing.

:kick:
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Katherine Brengle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 08:17 AM
Response to Original message
7. Protecting the children? How about punishing the fucking rapists?
Edited on Mon Sep-24-07 08:19 AM by Katherine Brengle
You wrote:

"The recidivism for many groups of offenders drops further once you look at them individually. For instance, the majority of sex offenses against a child are committed by someone that the child knows and trust (roughly 90%). The majority of those offenses (that is, excluding perpetrators who are unknown to the victim) are committed by family members. Intra-familial offenders are typically on the lower end of the risk scale for reoffense. They tend to be what is known as "situational" offenders in that they are not typically predators."

Tell that to my best friend who was repeatedly raped and abused by her father as a child.

I don't think this is accurate. And even if the odds of "reoffense" are not as high as we usually assume they are, rapists still belong in jail - they don't deserve to live among us.

Protecting our children is a given - we do as well as we can and hope we are successful. But the least we can do is put these human scum in prison.

(TO be clear, I agree that clear definitions are needed, and that there are situations in which a life sentence would not be appropriate (also I am not in favor of the death penalty for any crime) but I don't like to get caught up in the, "OH, these poor teenagers getting charged with statutory rape" crap because it's a red herring.)
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CoffeeCat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 11:06 AM
Response to Reply #7
10. It is not true....
Edited on Mon Sep-24-07 11:16 AM by TwoSparkles
...that "intra-familial offenders are typically on the lower end of the risk scale for re offense".

Can you please site the data on which you base that statement? I've been studying pedophiles for years, and
I'm currently consulting with a nationally-renowned PTSD expert who specializes in pedophilia. I've never
heard that.

The "situational" offenders that you describe are just as bad as the true pedophiles. It's as if you are suggesting
that a "situational" pedophile is nothing to worry about. In many cases, they are worse than the true pedophile!
True pedophiles are sexually attracted to children. "Situational" offenders rape children, force their penises
into their mouths and violate children for decades---because they are sadistic, full of rage, or seeking control.

Most serial situational abusers sexually abuse in the same way that a serial killer murders people. They do
it because it makes them feel in control. They get off when they hurt a child or take their innocence away.
Their lives are out of control and they seek control by controlling someone else. A child is most easily
controllable. They choose their own children because it is easy to violate a child who is dependent on them for
food, clothing, a roof over your head and love and security. "Situational offenders" derive pleasure from creating
a trauma bond between themselves and their victims. It gives them a high.

These fathers, stepfather, uncles and grandfather who sexually prey on their own children---because they get ego
supply from violating an innocent child---are perverse, evil and sadistic. They're not "pedophile lite" abusers. They're
sexual terrorists who violate their own flesh and blood.

As for recidivism rates...how in the world do you get an accurate measure on when these pedophiles offend again? Many
times, if these perps are caught--their children are taken away from them. They never see the child again. So, you
might not have a re-offense with that child--but who is to say that they don't move on to other children, and use more severe threats and silencing tactics with the next crop of victims? 90 percent of children who are molested never tell. Are you
counting on the sexual child rapist to tell the truth about his offenses? "Yes, sir I molested two more girls after
I was caught!". Are you suggesting that child rapists are also truthtellers, especially when this truth would demand
that the police return them to prison?

I can tell you this, I work with a man who runs group for child molesters. It takes an average of two years to get these
perps to break their denial and admit wrongdoing. TWO YEARS...even if there are multiple victims and videotape proof of
their crimes. Rehabilitation requires intensive therapy--breaking down walls of denial about their pedophile crimes and
further denial regarding their own childhood pain and suffering. Breaking through the pedophile mindset takes years and
years. They are insidious, complex people who have masked their own pain and abuse--by abusing others.

Don't tell me that these people don't re-offend. You don't just dabble in kiddie rape--like shoplifters compulsively steal
from Kmart. To get to that point where you are having sex with your 8 year old daughter and the 5-year old girl down
the street--means that you have some complex, deeply-ingrained psychological issues happening. Those are not
unraveled easily and just because you are caught.

I really want to see specific examples of your "low recidivism" claims, documented by research--because I've been
learning about perps for 6 years now, and I haven't EVER seen evidence that comes close to suggesting that. Everything
I have seen and heard speaks to just the opposite.
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the other one Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 11:52 AM
Response to Reply #7
16. Re-offending means AFTER punishment and release.
A man who rapes his daughter twenty times may be guilty of multiple offenses, but he cannot truthfully be said to re-offend until after he has been through the justice system. Taken in this context, once a sex offender has been caught and punished, he is among the least likely to re-offend. .

The upshot is that most sex crimes are crimes of opportunity, and once a person has come face to face with the legal system their desire to avoid that legal system in the future dominates their actions. A person who persists in this type of behavior is more than likely in need of serious psychological therapy and should be treated as much as someone with a mental illness as someone with criminal intent.
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varkam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 01:37 PM
Response to Reply #7
22. They are punished.
Edited on Mon Sep-24-07 01:38 PM by varkam
We do have a criminal justice system that operates, and most rapists and child molesters are routinely sent to prison and then required to register as sex offenders.

Tell that to my best friend who was repeatedly raped and abused by her father as a child.

I never said that things like that don't happen and that there are not predators who repeatedly rape their own children. But that sort of evidence is anecdotal in nature and, subsequently, will have a very hard time generalizing that to an entire group of sex offenders. On the evidence, people such as your friend's father are a relatively small grouping of sex offenders.

I don't think this is accurate. And even if the odds of "reoffense" are not as high as we usually assume they are, rapists still belong in jail - they don't deserve to live among us.

Whether or not retribution can stand alone as a justification for criminal justice is an issue worthy of discussion. I don't think that it is. And with respect to reoffense rates: any reputable study that I have seen places the reoffense rates between 9 and 18%, sans treatment. If you have evidence that says otherwise you are more than welcome to raise it here.

(TO be clear, I agree that clear definitions are needed, and that there are situations in which a life sentence would not be appropriate (also I am not in favor of the death penalty for any crime) but I don't like to get caught up in the, "OH, these poor teenagers getting charged with statutory rape" crap because it's a red herring.)

As I note elsewhere, that is a straw man. I only raised the case of Elliott to demonstrate that sex offenders are a heterogeneous group with poor definition.
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TahitiNut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 04:00 PM
Response to Reply #7
36. It sounds very much to me like the Ann Coulter approach to retribution.
"Kill them all and let God sort them out!"

We're apparently talking about first-time offenders since if the life sentence or death penalty is applied, there would never be a second-time offense among the convicted.

Given that we're talking about convicted first-time sex offenders, such an approach assumes there are no innocents among the convicted. But there are. It's certain.

Furthermore, since the sole "rationale" is to prevent (preemptively!) a re-offense, then the only sex offenses that would be prevented are those of the X% (where 'X' is the recidivism rate - 10%-50%) and that means we'd be uselessly 'punishing' (preemptively!) Y% (100% - X%) innocent people ... i.e. those who WON'T re-offend.

Thus, the advocates of such an approach are apparently unconcerned with the lifetime imprisonment or death of innocent people ... who are mere "collateral damage" in a Crusade against the Satan of sexual abuse.

I have a hard time seeing the difference between this and murdering over 1 million innocent Iraqis for the sake of some Crusade against "evil-doers."

And it'd NEVER end. Why? Because it's crystal clear that the "justice system" is not an effective deterrent against sexual abuse. No sexual predator is DETERRED merely because others were caught and punished. Indeed, if anything, it results in the murder of the victim far, far more often than it deters ... since a dead victim can't identify the perp.

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truedelphi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 10:17 AM
Response to Original message
8. I think it is absolutely CRAZY and PSYCHOPATHIC to sentence a nineteen year old
Edited on Mon Sep-24-07 10:18 AM by truedelphi
For having sex with his seventeen year old girlfriend.

Here in Lake COunty, a local school teacher, age 23, was watching some soft pornography with his girlfriend who was over 21.

Some local high school kids - who were his PE students, stopped in to say Hi.

The TV was not turned off during the visist and now this teacher is serving at least five years.

And when he is out,he will proably never teach again. He will also have to register as a sex offender wherever he goes.

Do I approve of what happened in terms of the porn? No.

But five years for what seems to be bad judgement (TO me half of what is on TV is soft porn - I doubt these kids saw anything on his TV they don't see at halftime on the SUperBowl.)

So when will the pendulum in this country ever stop mid-way!
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BoneDaddy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 11:10 AM
Response to Reply #8
12. That is the insanity
of what happens when an appropriate response to punishing sex offenders goes off the chart.
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CoffeeCat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 11:29 AM
Response to Reply #12
14. Wow, the disinformation here is really sad...
Child molesters are rarely caught. They are devious, calculated and evil. They intentionally
select children because they know that children don't tell. You can easily terrorize a 6- or 9-
year old child into silence.

Most offenders implement silencing techniques that translate into 90 percent of victims NEVER
TELLING about the abuse. Perps tell these children that their mommies and daddies will go to jail,
or that no one will believe them, or that they will kill their pets, or kill their siblings. These
children are not only raped, they are emotionally terrorized into a traumatic silence.

So, when you finally do have one of these serial molesters caught--and the parents and children are
willing to deal with a trial--the perps are often given light sentences--sometimes only months.
That's very well documented.

These perps deserve life in prison, is there any doubt at all? No one is arguing that a 40-year old
man who molests innocent children--including his own flesh and blood--should not get a life sentence, are they???

If everyone can agree with life sentences for these kinds of child rapists and sexual terrorists, then
let's start there. Make it a mandatory life sentence.

This "oh we can't punish child rapists because then Joe-high-school-senior-football-player will go away
for life because he had sex with his 17-year-old girlfriend!" is ridiculous.

Grown men who repeatedly rape their own children have nothing to do with the high-school young man who
has sex with his 17-year old girlfriend.

If you people want to advocate for fairness and justice--start a campaign to legally separate the "Romeo
and Juliet" crimes from the molester crimes. Then no one will EVER be put in the position to argue that
a sexual terrorist---someone who repeatedly rapes his own children because it fills him with joy and a
sense of control---should be given anything but a life sentence.

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varkam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 04:10 PM
Response to Reply #14
39. Indeed, it is.
Child molesters are rarely caught. They are devious, calculated and evil. They intentionally
select children because they know that children don't tell. You can easily terrorize a 6- or 9-
year old child into silence.


Do you have any evidence to support this claim? Also, I would submit that they don't select children because "they know children won't tell", at least not on the whole. I think that the preponderance of the evidence suggests a sexual deviancy that could more readily explain why child molesters molest children.

Most offenders implement silencing techniques that translate into 90 percent of victims NEVER
TELLING about the abuse. Perps tell these children that their mommies and daddies will go to jail,
or that no one will believe them, or that they will kill their pets, or kill their siblings. These
children are not only raped, they are emotionally terrorized into a traumatic silence.


90%? Where does that stat come from? I know that there are many cases that go unreported (as is shown by a discrepancy between conviction rates and self-report surveys). I agree with you on some of those techniques, and they are indeed deplorable. But again, there are a few points that you should consider. First, lumping all offenders (even child molesters) into the same category is part of the problem to begin with. While some offenders do these things, it is clear that not all do. If you make the claim that many or most do, then I would like to see some kind of evidence to support that assertion.

So, when you finally do have one of these serial molesters caught--and the parents and children are
willing to deal with a trial--the perps are often given light sentences--sometimes only months.
That's very well documented.


So are we talking about serial child molesters - as in sexual predators and not intra-familial offenders or situational offenders? Plus, I don't know where you are getting your information from, but according to the Department of Justice people convicted of rape and child molestation are often given sentences comparable with manslaughter - which I don't think I would characterize as "light".

These perps deserve life in prison, is there any doubt at all? No one is arguing that a 40-year old
man who molests innocent children--including his own flesh and blood--should not get a life sentence, are they???


Well, if you read the OP...

If everyone can agree with life sentences for these kinds of child rapists and sexual terrorists, then
let's start there. Make it a mandatory life sentence.


Well not everyone can agree, so your conclusion does not follow. As an additional point of interest, prosecutors from across the country have been reporting that an unintended consequence of these stricter laws makes it more difficult to secure convictions as (a) the abuse is less likely to be reported and (b) the suspect is much less likely to cooperate or accept a plea agreement. I don't think that situation would improve if a mandatory life sentence for the first offense were implemented.

This "oh we can't punish child rapists because then Joe-high-school-senior-football-player will go away
for life because he had sex with his 17-year-old girlfriend!" is ridiculous.


That is a straw-man, as I have pointed out several times.

Grown men who repeatedly rape their own children have nothing to do with the high-school young man who
has sex with his 17-year old girlfriend.


In the legal arena they have both committed sexual abuse of a minor (which I argue is part of the problem, there needs to be greater differentiation).

If you people want to advocate for fairness and justice--start a campaign to legally separate the "Romeo
and Juliet" crimes from the molester crimes. Then no one will EVER be put in the position to argue that
a sexual terrorist---someone who repeatedly rapes his own children because it fills him with joy and a
sense of control---should be given anything but a life sentence.


I contend that not everyone who commits sexual abuse against a child (even if it is his own child) is a "sexual terrorist"; at least not as you characterize them. For example, what evidence do you have that everyone who does such a thing does so because "it fills him with joy and a sense of control"? For those people - people who see nothing wrong with what they did and cannot be rehabilitated - then perhaps a life sentence is in order. The problem, however, is that the primary justification needs to be specific deterrence or (in worse cases) incapacitation: but that can only be done on a case by case basis, as sexual offenders are an incredibly heterogeneous group. It would seem, though, that you are neither interested in deterrence, rehabilitation, or incapacitation: only retribution. If that is the case, then there are no statistics that I can cite, no studies that I can show you that will deter you from your lust for vengeance. At that point, you have already left the realm of reason.
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BoneDaddy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 08:54 PM
Response to Reply #14
53. I think that was the point
if you were really listening
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truedelphi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-25-07 02:34 PM
Response to Reply #14
65. It seems to me we are saying what you are saying
I am NOT saying to dismiss all molesters. Sorry if I did not make that clear.

But I do think, as your last paragraph so elegantly details, that we need to separate out Romeo and Juliet from the true child molester.

I did not carry on about the evils of child molestation because right now, I thought we all at least agreed on that. We do need to incarcerate those monsters. However they are entitled to a fair trial, and they are entitled to a case by case examination about whether or not they can ever get out. It worries me that the crime is so heinous that once your name is in the paper as a "suspect" it is well nigh all over for you in your community.

And what if you are innocent and being railroaded? I think of those poor people in So. Calif. (A mother and son) who were running a day care and suddenly their lives were turned around and the son ended in jail because of allegations that they were having sex with all the kiddies. Later he was proven innocent, but not before he served serious time.

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CoffeeCat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 10:31 AM
Response to Original message
9. It is possible to have harsh punishment....
Edited on Mon Sep-24-07 10:48 AM by TwoSparkles
...for sex offenders--while offering lesser sentences for the "Romeo and Juliet" cases.

I've never understood why people argue for lighter sentences for evil child rapists---by
pointing out that harsh sentences for the worst of society would be unfair to the 18-year old males
who have sex with a 17-year old girlfriend.

This is solved so easily--because sexual predator crimes and "Romeo and Juliet" crimes are not
related anymore than murder and jaywalking are related.

You deal with the sexual predators and molesters separately than the "R& J cases. You could have cut off ages.
For example--the law could state that if there is 5 years difference between the victim and
the perp--with the perp being 18 years or older---then the perpetrator does a life sentence.

Why is that so difficult to understand?

We're trying to stop 40-year old men from forcing 8 year old girls to perform oral sex on them.
We're trying to stop stepfathers and fathers from crawling into their 12-year old daughter's
beds and sexually terrorizing them night after night. Those crimes should be punishable by
life in prison.

It is a red herring to suggest that we should have lighter sentences for sexual predators who
prey on 5-year old children---because we might over-punish some high school senior had sex with someone who was a
year younger than him. The 40-year old man raping his own child repeatedly for a decade has
NOTHING to do with the high school senior getting a blow job from his sophomore girlfriend.

That's the equivalent of lumping together all traffic crimes with a blanket punishment of 30 years,
then arguing for lighter sentences for those who intentionally run over people because it's unfair
to the poor guy who just ran a stop sign.

The best answer is to make a dry distinction between R & J cases. The best answer isn't to make
it easier and less punitive for these soul-stealing, predators who believe that they have the right to sexually
violate any child they want--including their own flesh and blood.

Did you know that pedophiles truly believe that children want to have sex with them? They "groom" their
victims into accepting sexual behavior. This calculated plan of attack often takes months before they
rape. They'll show them pornography, tell them that "all little girls do this" or promise them treats,
candy or toys if they can just touch their leg, then touch their underwear, etc. Pretty soon, the child's
emotional and physical boundaries have been systematically broken down and they are too afraid or confused
to say no. The predator deludes himself into believing that the eventual sex was the child's idea, and that
they, in fact, are the victim of a precocious or evil child.

Pedophiles---any adult male or female having sex with a minor child--is a sexual terrorist. In addition to violating
the child, they often threaten, lie and ingrain in the children that something awful will happen to them,
their pets or their families if they "tell". Load of anxiety and trauma are heaped onto these children. Ninety
percent of children who are molested never tell. They are traumatized into silence. If they do get help,
it's often well into adulthood--and they battle eating disorders, addictions, depression, self injury, anxiety
disorders, PTSD and loss of full potential.

Victims get life sentences. So should the predators. We should legally separate the "Romeo and Juliet" cases
from these horrendous, evil pedophile crimes----so no one can ever justify giving one of these perverse
child predators anything less than a life sentence. EVER.

You're a grown man or woman...and you sexually violate a minor child---you're done. You're locked up for life.
That is not too much to ask. That is not unreasonable. It should be the law.
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varkam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 01:26 PM
Response to Reply #9
18. A response
I've never understood why people argue for lighter sentences for evil child rapists---by
pointing out that harsh sentences for the worst of society would be unfair to the 18-year old males
who have sex with a 17-year old girlfriend.


I think categorizing people who commit crimes as "evil" only further obscures any productive discussion on the topic. But, more to the point, I'm not arguing for lighter sentences but rather trying to bring reason and evidence to bear on the discussion.

This is solved so easily--because sexual predator crimes and "Romeo and Juliet" crimes are not
related anymore than murder and jaywalking are related.


From a legal standpoint, they are related in that they are both sex crimes.

You deal with the sexual predators and molesters separately than the "R& J cases. You could have cut off ages.
For example--the law could state that if there is 5 years difference between the victim and
the perp--with the perp being 18 years or older---then the perpetrator does a life sentence.


I would agree except for the fact that you seem to be pushing for a one-size-fits all solution to, again, a very heterogeneous group.

We're trying to stop 40-year old men from forcing 8 year old girls to perform oral sex on them.
We're trying to stop stepfathers and fathers from crawling into their 12-year old daughter's
beds and sexually terrorizing them night after night. Those crimes should be punishable by
life in prison.


I agree that we are trying to stop those things from happening, but my contention is that making life sentences mandatory will at best do nothing to stop it via general deterrence and could make things even worse.

It is a red herring to suggest that we should have lighter sentences for sexual predators who
prey on 5-year old children---because we might over-punish some high school senior had sex with someone who was a
year younger than him. The 40-year old man raping his own child repeatedly for a decade has
NOTHING to do with the high school senior getting a blow job from his sophomore girlfriend.


And it is a straw man to suggest I am arguing we should have lighter sentences for sexual predators because some high school senior has sex with his minor girlfriend - no where have I suggested that as my reasoning. I merely pointed out that case to show that sexual offenders are a very heterogeneous group - and thus casting a wide net makes little sense insofar as sentencing is concerned.

That's the equivalent of lumping together all traffic crimes with a blanket punishment of 30 years,
then arguing for lighter sentences for those who intentionally run over people because it's unfair
to the poor guy who just ran a stop sign.


Again, this is a straw man.

The best answer is to make a dry distinction between R & J cases. The best answer isn't to make
it easier and less punitive for these soul-stealing, predators who believe that they have the right to sexually
violate any child they want--including their own flesh and blood.


Again, straw man.

Did you know that pedophiles truly believe that children want to have sex with them? They "groom" their
victims into accepting sexual behavior. This calculated plan of attack often takes months before they
rape. They'll show them pornography, tell them that "all little girls do this" or promise them treats,
candy or toys if they can just touch their leg, then touch their underwear, etc. Pretty soon, the child's
emotional and physical boundaries have been systematically broken down and they are too afraid or confused
to say no. The predator deludes himself into believing that the eventual sex was the child's idea, and that
they, in fact, are the victim of a precocious or evil child.


Yes, I am familiar with how some predators operate. It is important to keep in mind, however, that not all predators or child molesters follow that protocol. Moreover, what you describe seems to me to be a perfect example of mental sickness and various delusions - which in many cases can be correct via appropriate treatment.

Pedophiles---any adult male or female having sex with a minor child--is a sexual terrorist. In addition to violating
the child, they often threaten, lie and ingrain in the children that something awful will happen to them,
their pets or their families if they "tell". Load of anxiety and trauma are heaped onto these children. Ninety
percent of children who are molested never tell. They are traumatized into silence. If they do get help,
it's often well into adulthood--and they battle eating disorders, addictions, depression, self injury, anxiety
disorders, PTSD and loss of full potential.

Victims get life sentences. So should the predators. We should legally separate the "Romeo and Juliet" cases
from these horrendous, evil pedophile crimes----so no one can ever justify giving one of these perverse
child predators anything less than a life sentence. EVER.


You're conflating pedophiles, predators, and child molesters. A pedophile, according to the DSM is an individual who has a primary sexual attraction to children. A predator could be defined as one who poses a risk to society at large in that they will try to find children to rape. A child molester is one who has committed a sex crime against a child. There may be some overlap in certain individuals, but it is important to note that you are using words interchangeably that have distinct meanings.

As I noted in the OP, perhaps some people wish for these life sentences to be enacted solely on the basis of retribution. If that is the case, then I simply wish they would come out and say that rather than try to disguise it as some scheme to protect the public. It would make things a lot more honest.
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BoneDaddy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 11:09 AM
Response to Original message
11. Good points
and I can discriminate that the John Couey's of the world should be executed.
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aikoaiko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 11:21 AM
Response to Original message
13. One size fits all - no, but I say let the upper end be extended to at least life (if not DP).


Does this graph cited in one of the Center for Sex Offender Management articles say that with more time out of prison they are *significantly* much more likely to be rearrested for the same type of offense? Isn't this compelling reason to keep them locked up longer?

http://i22.tinypic.com/165f8l
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varkam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 01:52 PM
Response to Reply #13
24. I'm not sure. Couple problems, though.
Edited on Mon Sep-24-07 01:56 PM by varkam
Here's a paragraph describing the graph:

Conversely, Prentky, Lee, Knight, and Cerce (1997) found that over a 25-year period, child molesters had higher rates of reoffense than rapists. In this study, recidivism was operationalized as a failure rate and calculated as the proportion of individuals who were rearrested using survival analysis (which takes into account the amount of time each offender has been at risk in the community). Results show that over longer periods of time, child molesters have a higher failure ratethus, a higher rate of rearrestthan rapists (52 percent versus 39 percent over 25 years).


I'm not sure what the rationale is behind a 25-year follow-up, but I'll have to look into that. But the first thing that jumps out at me is how they operationalize recidivism. I'm assuming that they are focusing on sex crimes and not on any type of crime (it would of been nice if that were spelled out explicitly). Additionally, I'm not sure how the application of survival analysis affected the results. Also, it seems that they are focusing on re-arrest and not on convictions - so it is likely that there are at least a few false positives in the data. Another issue is the number of subjects. I'm not sure what conclusions that you could draw from this given that there were relatively few people in each category (though it would be nice if we had larger studies focusing on these types of follow-ups).

And, finally, there is no differentiation within groups. It would be much more useful if we could see the rates for say intrafamilial offenders or for offenders who had a same-sex victim. Without those things, I'm just not sure how useful it is.

Undoubedtly, though, there are some who poses a persistent risk for reoffense for whatever reason. But, again, the problem with the application of a one-size-fits all law is you're going to be locking up a lot of people who do not pose a risk to anyone. The key, I think, is greater differentiation within groups.

Edited to add: Doh! They do mean new sex offense charges - it says it right in the graph! Oops.
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aikoaiko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 04:00 PM
Response to Reply #24
37. Are you willing to allow for life-imprisonment for some cases or DP in some cases?

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varkam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 04:13 PM
Response to Reply #37
40. DP? Probably not.
I'm against the death penalty on principle. As far as a life-sentence goes, I would be for it in certain cases. However, the focus needs to be on whether or not the individual remains a threat, not on retribution. To argue that we should lock people up forever because they did a terrible thing, I think, smacks of hypocrisy. If someone is a serial offender, then they should be given a lengthy sentence and then, at periodic times, re-evaluated to see if they remain a threat to society. If so, then keep them incapacitated until otherwise. If not, release them.
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Hydra Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 11:51 AM
Response to Original message
15. Expect some major flames for this
most people are interested in the "justice" system to provide retribution...in the most horrible fashion imaginable. Many times, the wrong person is put away and branded with the crime because the police want to look good with a quick "closure."

*shakes head* We're rapidly reaching the realm of thought crimes...too bad cheering for torture and execution doesn't seem to count.
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varkam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 03:05 PM
Response to Reply #15
28. It is ironic
That people (and rightly so) vigorously decry the suffering and pain inflicted on innocent victims only to turn around and advocate inflicting more suffering and pain on on the perpetrators - as if that will somehow magically undo their crimes.
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Hydra Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 03:18 PM
Response to Reply #28
30. I've been a victim's advocate
Edited on Mon Sep-24-07 03:20 PM by Hydra
And the answer would surprise you: most people don't really care abut the victims. They make outraged noises and a few "well, I hope she/he is ok...", but when I push for changes to protect and inform about crimes such as kidnapping and domestic abuse, their doors shut faster than Mr. Scrooge's when the church stops by for donations.

Given that most people just have an automatic reaction of "outraged" or "horrified", is it any wonder that their next reaction is "Destroy the thing that makes me feel that way!!!"?

That attitude finally distills into a more horrifying compound...the fact is, the reason people can do this is that the victim and the perp are not really "people" in the minds of those who behave that way. They are "things", like actors in a play or dolls in a toy store.

Humanity as a whole has a problem being humane.
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varkam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 03:35 PM
Response to Reply #30
32. I think there's a reason behind it.
And I don't think that it is specific to sexual abuse or rape. Phil Zimbardo in The Lucifer Effect makes this point much more eloquently than I am going to, but the reason that we so viciously try to psychological differentiate between "us" and "them" is because we want to believe that we could never be capable of such things - so we label them as evil, as monsters, as less than human. I think it was Marcus Aurelius who said nothing that is of the human condition is surprising. On that note, we are all capable of doing the things our fellow humans have done by the virtue of the fact that we, too, are human beings. But that fact is incredibly uncomfortable for many (and perhaps society at large) and so we set up these sorts of wedges to keep our own psychological comfort.

And again, that's not specific to sexual abuse or rape. In the book, Zimbardo talked about his famed Stanford Prison Experiment, the abuses at Abu Ghraib, and other social psychological research that tends to back up the notion that we are all capable of doing some pretty heinous things - whether we admit that or not.

In closing, I wish I could remember who wrote it (I believe it was a Canadian psychologist, but I'm having trouble remembering the source or her name - damn my fallible memory!) but she noticed that any deviant action is essentially an ill-equipped attempt at expression and that society should do well to respond appropriately and not to respond with a big spoonful of pain.
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Hydra Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 03:55 PM
Response to Reply #32
34. Those probably would be contributing factors
I look at humans as predatory animals, so I don't see much that surprises me either. I have plenty that bothers me, though.

I agree with you though on the idea that most people want to believe that these people are somehow "different" from them. Considering how bloodthirsty some are in the pursuit of "justice", I just don't see that.
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Tyler Durden Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 11:56 AM
Response to Original message
17. THE MENTALLY ILL ARE EVIL!!! POSSESSED!!!
DEMONSDEMONSDEMONSDEMONS!!!

UNIVERSAL EXORCISM, FOLLOWED BY BURNING AT THE STAKE?

What is WRONG with you people?

Mental illness is ILLNESS. Why don't you punish people for having CANCER?

Some of these will never be effectively treated in our current medical spectrum: fine. CONFINE THEM humanely and completely.

EVIL in defining these individuals is a faulty construct. You might as well have your house condemned because you've blown all the circuit breakers.
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varkam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 01:41 PM
Response to Reply #17
23. Excellent point.
Defining people as "evil" just obscures the discussion.
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Hydra Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 02:52 PM
Response to Reply #17
27. The voice of reason!
That must scare you as much as it scares me :evilgrin:
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aikoaiko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 04:03 PM
Response to Reply #17
38. errr, we're talking about criminal sexual violence, not mental illness.

Unless you're one of those people who de facto declare are criminals mentally ill, I don't see you how this is relevant.
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varkam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 04:14 PM
Response to Reply #38
41. Pedophilia is a mental illness.
Edited on Mon Sep-24-07 04:18 PM by varkam
So are the various paraphilias (they are all listed in the DSM, if you care to look them up).

Edited to add: I should point out that there are contributing factors, aside from mental illness, that contribute to the commission of a crime. However, for many if not the vast majority of sexual offenses, mental illness is probably a prime culprit.
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aikoaiko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 05:05 PM
Response to Reply #41
46. you don't have to be a pedophile to commit a sex crime against children.

Of course some pedophile do commit sex crimes against children, but its not a requirement in any way. Its really an assumption to medicalize this crime.
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Tyler Durden Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 05:15 PM
Response to Reply #46
48. Someone who RAPES a 5 year old is just evil, not sick.
Riiiight.

Sorry, but the Good/Evil BS has nothing to do with someone who abuses children, however they do it.

Doesn't make them GOOD, but does make them sick.

Doesn't mean they WALK, but does mean they don't go in prison general population.

We USED TO have hospitals for the criminally insane...until Reagan and Bush 1 that is.
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aikoaiko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 05:25 PM
Response to Reply #48
49. Who are you arguing with? No one here said sexual assaulters are evil
Edited on Mon Sep-24-07 05:26 PM by aikoaiko

...but some people referenced in the OP (and me) have argued for maximum penalties for some for their behavior when they knew they were engaged in criminal behavior.

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Tyler Durden Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 06:59 PM
Response to Reply #49
50. Read all the posts.
Lots of "String 'em up" and "lock 'em up" posts.

Like yours.

These people largely are compulsive or are misswired. Why would you beat a lame horse for not running?

AS I SAID, we used to take care of mentally sick people. NOW we make them targets in a prison yard. YAY for us.
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aikoaiko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 08:40 PM
Response to Reply #50
52. your analogy is lame. I'd shoot my horse if I couldn't be sure of people's safety.


and it had injured people in the past.
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varkam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 09:55 PM
Response to Reply #52
54. Except we're talking about people.
Not horses.
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aikoaiko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-25-07 06:24 AM
Response to Reply #54
61. His analogy not mine. I agree that one sentence can't do all sex offenses justice


but some criminal sexual offenses are heinous and are deserving of life imprisonment, at least. If you want people to sympathize with your position that some "sex offenders" aren't much of a danger to others, then I hope you'll also acknowledge that some sex offenders are incorrigible and a danger forever. Muddying the debate with mental illness like Tyler Durden has done is a separate, albeit real and important, issue that touches upon many more than sex offenders.

Sure, I understand why people are against the DP, in general, but when heinous sex offenses occur from people who were already incarcerated for related crimes, its only natural to want sentences to be longer for first time offenses.
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varkam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-25-07 06:40 AM
Response to Reply #61
62. I see.
Edited on Tue Sep-25-07 06:40 AM by varkam
but some criminal sexual offenses are heinous and are deserving of life imprisonment, at least. If you want people to sympathize with your position that some "sex offenders" aren't much of a danger to others, then I hope you'll also acknowledge that some sex offenders are incorrigible and a danger forever. Muddying the debate with mental illness like Tyler Durden has done is a separate, albeit real and important, issue that touches upon many more than sex offenders.

So is your implication that people with mental illness are incapable of recovery? I'm not sure what you are getting that there, as I don't think it is an uncontroversial claim to state that mental illness is a factor in many crimes (especially sexual crimes - just ask any therapist that treats sex offenders).

Some offenders are likely to pose a persistent risk to society, but my contention from the beginning has been to both clarify the debate and to show that those offenders are a very small percentage of the whole group of sexual offenders (and, indeed, a small portion of child molesters as well). They key is in identifying those offenders, which can be done with greater focus on differentiation within groups. In other words, lumping all child molesters and all rapists into a single category is essentially meaningless insofar as risk assessment is concerned.

Sure, I understand why people are against the DP, in general, but when heinous sex offenses occur from people who were already incarcerated for related crimes, its only natural to want sentences to be longer for first time offenses.

Natural? Maybe. Reasonable? Not by a long shot. The fact that some people re-offend does not mean that the conclusion that we should lock them all up and let God sort them out follows. If that were really the case, then people should have no problem with banishing any kind of criminal forever as that would certainly take care of any re-offense problem. Of course, the problems inherent in that type of solution are that it is unconstitutional, inhumane, and overkill. Of course, I get the distinct feeling that some here simply do not care and would rather rely on emotion to guide their decision-making as opposed to reason.
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aikoaiko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-25-07 08:35 AM
Response to Reply #62
64. sigh. you're making straw men out of what I said.

We're talking about criminal sexual offenses. No where in your post did you mention mental illness. If you want to talk about how we need a more nuanced judicial system for the mentally ill who commit crimes, then go ahead and have one, but your bait and switching here.


Regarding the prognoses of the mentally ill -- it is well known that recovery is not possible for some, but much progress can be made with many and full recovery is possible in some.

You say those perpetrators who "pose a persistent risk to society" are a "very small percentage" and yet we just saw in one particular study data that said anywhere from 30 to 52% get caught doing it again. I don't know what your definition of small is, but its not mine.

No one is lumping all sex offenders into one group. You can debate it all you want, but you'll always win because nearly everyone agrees with you.

Again, your straw man implying that I want them all locked up forever is just not true. Just so that we're clear, SOME first time offenders need to be locked up forever. If you disagree, then so be it.

No one is stopping anyone from developing better risk assessment techniques for criminals -- all criminals.

You wrote, "I get the distinct feeling that some here simply do not care and would rather rely on emotion to guide their decision-making as opposed to reason." Well thats a nice sideways slap in the face to someone who has been discussing this topic without resorting to insults. Thats akin to me saying something like, " I get the distinct feeling that some here simply don't care about children getting raped." Indirect disparaging comments like that really don't help -- do they?

I'm out of this thread. All you do is present the opposing viewpoint (mine at least) in nonexistent extremes and bait and switch the topic.



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varkam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-25-07 02:36 PM
Response to Reply #64
66. Speaking of strawmen...
We're talking about criminal sexual offenses. No where in your post did you mention mental illness. If you want to talk about how we need a more nuanced judicial system for the mentally ill who commit crimes, then go ahead and have one, but your bait and switching here.

Where, exactly, did I propose reforms to the criminal justice system for the mentally ill?

Regarding the prognoses of the mentally ill -- it is well known that recovery is not possible for some, but much progress can be made with many and full recovery is possible in some.

Well, I think that depends a lot on the mental illness in question.

You say those perpetrators who "pose a persistent risk to society" are a "very small percentage" and yet we just saw in one particular study data that said anywhere from 30 to 52% get caught doing it again. I don't know what your definition of small is, but its not mine.

Most reputable studies place the five-year recidivism rate in the low teens. And those figures are sans treatment. If you add treatment like relapse prevention CBT, then they drop to below 10%. So I don't think I'm too out of bounds in describing that as a very small percentage of the whole.

No one is lumping all sex offenders into one group. You can debate it all you want, but you'll always win because nearly everyone agrees with you.

No one is? Really? Have you read any of the other posts in this thread? Did you read the OP?

Again, your straw man implying that I want them all locked up forever is just not true. Just so that we're clear, SOME first time offenders need to be locked up forever. If you disagree, then so be it.

If you can point out where I claim that you want them all locked up forever, I would greatly appreciate that. Here's what you posted:

Sure, I understand why people are against the DP, in general, but when heinous sex offenses occur from people who were already incarcerated for related crimes, its only natural to want sentences to be longer for first time offenses.


I took that as you describing a general response by people - not as your personal position and so my response was criticizing that response. I did not claim that you wanted them all locked up forever.

And, again, if you can show where I claimed that no first time offenders should be locked up forever, please point that out as well.

No one is stopping anyone from developing better risk assessment techniques for criminals -- all criminals.

Sure they are. Instituting a rational scheme for determining who is and who is not a threat (and then treating them accordingly) is prevented by wide-spread mistaken assumptions about sex offenders in general (i.e. that the recidivism rate is nearly 100% - which some here have argued). I'm not sure why you bring up "all criminals", since we are not discussing all criminals.

You wrote, "I get the distinct feeling that some here simply do not care and would rather rely on emotion to guide their decision-making as opposed to reason." Well thats a nice sideways slap in the face to someone who has been discussing this topic without resorting to insults. Thats akin to me saying something like, " I get the distinct feeling that some here simply don't care about children getting raped." Indirect disparaging comments like that really don't help -- do they?

I wasn't referring to anyone in particular, nor was I trying to be disrespectful. This sort of thing is a very emotional topic, and it is difficult to maintain one's objectivity and thus remain open to reasonable persuasion on the topic. I didn't intend to call anyone a name or offend anyone. If I offended you, I apologize.

I'm out of this thread. All you do is present the opposing viewpoint (mine at least) in nonexistent extremes and bait and switch the topic.

Nice chatting with you.
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varkam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 07:32 PM
Response to Reply #46
51. No.
But as I said, it is often a contributing factor. If not pedophilia, then often some other mental illness is present that has contributed (i.e. addiction).
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Irreverend IX Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-25-07 02:38 AM
Response to Reply #17
57. If pedophiles could be identified without error...
Euthanasia would be the most merciful and expedient way to guarantee that they would not pose a threat to children. It's not punishment or retribution for their "evil," it's just good hygiene. However, since false accusations are a possibility, life imprisonment will suffice. And keep in mind that by pedophiles, I mean adults who are sexually attracted to prepubescent children, not Romeo and Juliet types or any of the other superfluous "sex offenders." Pedophilia is a sexual orientation like heterosexuality and homosexuality and thus can not be changed.
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varkam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-25-07 06:50 AM
Response to Reply #57
63. What?
Please correct me if I am mistaken, but are you essentially advocating murdering people who are mentally ill? I think that is absolutely unconscionable, especially given that treatment produces statistically significant reductions in recidivism rates. Even with false accusations notwithstanding (and they are not a possibility, but a certainty) any psychological measure has an error rate built right in. That means that you are going to get at least some false positives and at least some false negatives. Even if there were a psychological measure that could accurately identify people with a primary sexual preference for children, it doesn't follow that they will act out on those desires (as is demonstrated by the various categorizations of pedophiles - so just saying "adults who are sexually attracted to prebuescent children" is essentially meaningless with respect to determining who is and who is not a threat).

With all of that out of the way, if you mean offenders who will pose a persistent risk, then I would be for long-term incarceration or civil committment given that certain conditions are in place, such as periodic evaluations of risk level (as risk is not a static concept).






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PDenton Donating Member (513 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 03:41 PM
Response to Original message
33. Sex crimes are good for politics
It's a cheap shot way to say you are tough on crime. Other, more educated people would say it is "pandering".
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Hydra Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 03:56 PM
Response to Reply #33
35. Along with fearmongering
and demonizing based on race, income level, education level, etc...you're right, an easy political tool to use with very little risk involved.
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varkam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 04:20 PM
Response to Reply #33
43. Yes, sex offenders are an easy political target.
No one is going to argue with being tougher on sex offenders - and so politicians feel free to ratchet up the restrictions and the punishment in order to score cheap political points. The problem, though, is that these laws have jumped the proverbial shark long ago and getting them back to a level of sanity that would actually benefit public safety is going to be quite the task given that no politician wants to be portrayed as being soft on sex offenders.
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PDenton Donating Member (513 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 04:49 PM
Response to Reply #43
44. The best way to fight these laws is probably on legal grounds
... not political. Nobody wants to be like Dukakis with Willie Horton
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varkam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 04:50 PM
Response to Reply #44
45. I agree.
And I think some sanity is starting to be brought to bear on the discussion. But it's still going to largely be a game of wait and see.
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Nutmegger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 04:18 PM
Response to Original message
42. Where's the DU pedo-lynch mod?
I agree with you. Things are so batshit crazy with this damn pedo-registry. I can image if mandatory life imprisonment sentences were required....yikes.

I gave you your first :thumbsup: ... but I can still :kick:
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aikoaiko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-24-07 05:10 PM
Response to Reply #42
47. I'm here. :hi:


:hi:
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varkam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-25-07 02:16 AM
Response to Reply #42
55. I was actually surprised.
I was expected a much harsher reaction. Go figure.
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cynatnite Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-25-07 02:33 AM
Response to Original message
56. They aren't one size fits all laws...
Yes, you do have the few outrageous cases of a nineteen year old with a seventeen year old that gets far more punishment than he deserves. Sadly those do happen but they are not the norm. The laws vary from state to state when it comes to the age of consent. They also take into consideration the details of each case. I can speak from experience on this.

Is there anyone here at DU who would be willing to live next door to a child molester no matter if the crime was committed against their family member or not? I have children and grandchildren. Until someone can convince me that there is a way to cure child molesters I absolutely do not want one anywhere near them. I don't want them near other people's children. I don't want them near schools, parks or any other place that children frequent.
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varkam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-25-07 04:57 AM
Response to Reply #56
60. No, they don't.
The vast majority of states (49) do not take things on a case by case basis insofar as things the like registry are concerned (according to HRW). And, again, the point of my OP is that sex offenders are a very hetereogeneous group (including child molestors who have a wide range of motivations and, hence, levels of risk).

Again, the recidivism rates are very low for sexual offenders and, in fact, the greater danger comes from people who are known to the child (including family members) as opposed to strangers that you're living near to. Further, there is no evidence to suggest that proximity to places such as schools or parks have any effect on recidivism (in fact, there is evidence to suggest that residency restriction laws may actually hamper efforts at reintegration).
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Irreverend IX Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-25-07 02:41 AM
Response to Original message
58. Strawman crap.
No one I've read here calling for life imprisonment of pedophiles has said that the penalty should be applied to 19 and 17 year-old couples or any such frivolous crap, but only to adults who molest prepubescent children. Adults who sexually desire young children are psychologically flawed on a fundamental level, and I can see no reason why they should ever see the outside of a jail cell. There's no reason to risk it.
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varkam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-25-07 04:53 AM
Response to Reply #58
59. That's ironic.
I'm not arguing that we shouldn't apply the DP or life imprisonment to sex offenders because of "frivolous crap" - rather, I raised that to explain the difficulty of defining the terms of the argument (hence, your own straw man and the irony of your comment).
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