Thursday, January 7, 2010


This continues my look at the California Sex Offender Management Board’s Report. The text is here.

Don’t forget the page-numbering system: the first number is the Adobe browser number and the second is the page number of the actual text.

Section 2 (12/6) deals with the Numbers and Distribution of Offenders. It begins with some numbers. There are 61,710 registered sex offenders (RSOs) in California; and another 23,469 who have been convicted in California but reside elsewhere. There are 22,474 sex-offenders in custody within the State prison system. There are about 725 civil committeds, although only 20-30% of those are taking specific sex-offender therapy, the remainder perhaps taking general rehabilitation and vocational courses.

That’s a lot of sex-offender prosecutions. It occurs to me that if sex offenses are under-reported by at least a factor of 10, then there are half-a-million to three-quarters of a million actual sex-offenders loose in the State – surely enough to keep any advocacy in business for quite a long time, by the way.

I’m not sure but I would say that of that 70% of civil-committeds, a notable fraction don’t take the sex-offender therapy classes and programs for a variety of reasons besides the rote pop-psychological accusation that they are ‘in denial’ about their crimes and actions: if you have maintained your innocence in court filings, then you probably aren’t allowed into the programs, and you couldn’t very well volunteer for a program that required you to ‘come out of denial’ and admit to everything. Further, the stigma of sex-offending in the carceral setting (and I would surely include a State hospital for the criminally insane – as they used to call them – a carceral setting) is such, especially for one convicted of offenses against a ‘child’*, that many incarcerated convictees may well judge discretion to be the better part of valor.

But this Report keeps popping up with interesting and useful stuff – which you don’t often see. In its Recommendations it notes (14/8) that “the ‘metrics’ used to classify sex offenders, sex offenses, recidivism, and similar important dimensions are not consistent across systems making it hard to reach and state clear conclusions”.

And how! One of the very significant enablers of this entire mania has been the sloppy (if not also treacherous) misuse of terminology and definitions – e.g. ‘sex offenders’ and ‘sex offenders against children’, the very definitions of ‘child’ and ‘juvenile , and the impossibly overbroad definitions of ‘sexual assault’ and the impossibly vague definition of ‘molesting’).

You wonder though, if that’s the way the Regulatory and Preventive state wants it.

In that regard, I want to share here a thought that has come to me recently. I wonder if assorted ‘thinkers’ with Beltway connections have reasoned (as it were) thusly: since the Family and Parenthood and Maturity have all been greatly weakened as a result of certain widespread ‘liberations’ in the past few decades, then a whole lotta kids are going to wind up growing up without much parental (especially paternal and ‘male’) influence to help Shape them and prepare them for maturity and a life in society. And therefore, the State will have to Regulate these kids and Prevent them from committing crimes; the State will have to step in and step up to replace the formative influences formerly imbued by parents who could impart a culture-wide tradition of personal and social maturity.

If that thought is even partly true, then we are all in a heepa trubble. First of all, there are visions of acres of infant boy-children in diapers laid out on long tables in Mussolini’s State-run facilities, where the State could ensure that Italian boy-children grew up to be good Fascists and soldiers. Although I not only disagree with Musso’s plans to turn them into soldiers, but I really don’t want the government taking infants even if it only wants to turn them into computer programmers or ‘knowledge workers’ or for that matter Latin and Philosophy professors.

Governments aren’t good at this sort of stuff, a perennial truth ignored by decades of eager ‘revolutionaries’ who figured that in the wake of assorted ‘liberations’ and ‘empowerments’ the State could take the kids.

But it’s also essential to realize that there is a ‘window’ in which the young human is open to – and desperately in need of – the type of sustained care and growth-nurture that only parents can give. And unless the government is going to take over raising kids when they’re infants, then by the time Regulation and Prevention kicks in it will be wayyyyyyy too late. You kind of want to build the aircraft properly while it’s in the factory, because once it’s at 35,000 feet and has ‘souls’ aboard, you really can’t be pulling up the floorboards or ripping the wings off to angle them differently, no matter how much the aircraft may need such rework.

This would also add a new context for the sex-offense mania: it is only the first phase of a move toward a Regulatory and Preventive state made necessary by the abandonment of long-established (and – it has to be said – rather successful) traditional means of imparting to children necessary emotional, psychological, and moral competences essential to social and individual maturity. This will become even more necessary as cohorts of children grow into child-making adulthood having been themselves deprived of such formative essentials in their own childhood.

Like the various ‘wars’ in which this country is now engaged, many of these ‘liberations’ have proven to have hugely negative – though hardly unforeseeable – downsides.

In my next Post I will deal with Section 3 – Sex Offender Recidivism, where things get really interesting.


*You might profitably spend a few moments wondering if your fellow inmates and incarcerees will adhere to a ‘broad’ or ‘narrow’ definition of ‘child’, since that would surely govern their general assessment of your suitability for their companionship, and perhaps for recognizing any extended lease you might have on life.

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