Wednesday, January 13, 2010


(My apologies: I put the Post dealing with "Section 5: Supervision" onto the site in 'draft' form and forgot to actually Post it. Here it is. I promise to keep better track of things!)

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 5 deals with Supervision.

In its Data points it gives a couple of interesting figures that you don’t often come across: “In 2006, 11,739 ‘tips’ were reported through the public reporting feature of the California Megan’s Law website” (19/13). You are welcome to do your own figuring as it might occur to you as to the proportional significance of this number of ‘tips’. For myself, I cannot forget the comments by former Gestapo and Stasi officers that they (especially the less-organized and less numerous Nazi Gestapo) could not keep up with all of the ‘tips’ they received from ‘concerned citizens’ who so very often were disgruntled neighbors, employment rivals, jealous or jilted lovers, or even relatives and family members – and I’m guessing verrrry few of those ‘tips’ were actually rooted in activities treasonous to the Nazi or East German state, but rather were the result of humans’ sad and lethal tendency to pick up whatever legal weapon the government might leave lying around in order to vent their various displeasures with others and with life.

And of course, in the sex-offense mania, the government has not inadvertently left such trip-wire, hair-trigger ‘weapons’ lying around, but rather has intentionally armed the public with them. It won’t end well.

Given the broad definitions of ‘suspicious’ or ‘indicator’ activity connected with ‘sex offenders’, then a review of the gist of these ‘tips’ would probably be most interesting.

Further, “In 2007 DOJ received 9,902 public referrals”. That’s the federal Department of Justice. And a surprisingly small number of referrals, when you think of it. Of course it’s possible most ‘tippers’ go to their State sites first.

As so often in this Report, refreshing comments are made, not the less impressive for the fact that in non-mania times they would merely seem to be common sense.

“Supervising sex offenders who have been released to the community is a task that must focus primarily on public safety. The main purposes of supervision include successful re-entry into the community, successful re-assimilation into the community, and helping in the groundwork and preparation for the parolee or probationer’s long term success as a viable and productive member of the community. All of these areas in combination reduce the likelihood of re-offense and help to alleviate public fear of sex offenders released back into the communities.” (19/13)
But as so often in this Report, its conflicted ‘constituencies’ result in disjointed or even incoherent commentary.

So for example here, the supervision of sex offenders should focus primarily on public safety: well sort of but no. The actual work – as the paragraph soon goes on to describe well enough – consists in a constructive supervision of the parolee or probationer in order to enhance every possibility that he can re-integrate into society (which, given the public’s hugely ill-informed presumptions about ‘sex offenders’ – courtesy of the legislatures themselves – is a whole lot harder than it would otherwise be).

So this ‘primary focus’ on public safety is, if it has any purpose at all, merely rhetorical and thus designed merely to ‘make the right noise’ for some unmentioned ‘constituency’. After all, the primary focus of a Fire Department is public safety, you could say – but that tells you nothing about how the Department works or should work.

But then, as noted above, the paragraph rehearses the assorted elements that any competent probation or parole officer must include in an effective re-integration plan. Well and good. But of course, we all know that the primary presumption of the mania from the get-go, and the presumption that purportedly grounds and justifies – so to speak – the entire mania scheme is that sex offenders are incorrigible and cannot ever control themselves or their ‘urges’. This, no doubt, was submerged beneath that “living as ‘free’ persons in the community” snark that the Report made in the previous Section.

If sex-offenders can be rehabilitated – and if every effort should be made to do so – then the whole justifying ground of the mania is undermined. (I can’t help recalling a remark by one Confederate general – Pat Cleburne, I think – later in the Civil War, when he heard that Richmond was going to permit the enlistment of blacks in its dwindling military forces; said the General: “If the Negro will make a good soldier, then our whole theory of slavery is wrong”. The General was far, far ahead of his time, yet his insight stands out for simple acuity and clarity.)

I am not nit-picking the Report here. I grasp the torturous situation this Board and the California legislators now find themselves in (not that it isn’t to great extent of their own making): you start a mania precisely by making the most outrageously extreme and inaccurate Findings, certifying them as true as best you in all your professional skill or august legislative authority can determine … and then when the money runs out (always so much more efficient a motivator than the more ‘abstract’ respect for Truth) you have to walk yourself and the whole herd that you’ve stampeded back from the cliff before everybody goes over the edge. John Wayne would never have let one of his herds get into such a frakkulous situation.

But the Report winds up the paragraph with a reaffirmation of the value of “reducing the likelihood of re-offense”, which is a good thing. Although it has to be noted that the Report has already admitted that sex-offenders almost universally have a lower rate of recidivism than any other crime-criminal group, so a great deal of the ‘work’ has already been done before the State even opens the office doors in the morning.

The Report goes on to note that 70-80% of the State’s sex offenders are not under parole or probationary supervision (in the actual text of the Report – rather than here in the Executive Summary – the Board makes that sound like a bad thing – as if hordes of unsupervised ‘sex offenders’ were out there roaming the State like the buffalo of yore).

Reference is made (20/16) to “the Containment Model” and I’d like to explain that. There is a diagram in the body of the Report at page 108/102. The Model envisions the Sex Offender as ‘contained’ through being surrounded by 4 containment-elements: law enforcement and supervision; the treatment provider; the polygraph examiner (more on that below, of course); and the victim advocate.

As I’ve been saying in this series of Posts, there is some very valid question as to what the victim advocate can do, except as a cats-paw for the prosecutory urge to make life as stringently difficult as possible for convicts and what used to be known quaintly as ‘ex cons’. (Although the financial crisis may open up some space between the dampdreams of prosecutors and the heretofore eager-to-please criminal-law productions of legislatures; in which case the ‘victim movement’ – a creature of the early-1980s government effort to have its own ‘human face’ in support of law-and-order – will become orphaned.)

And as is evident in this Report, there is a profound disconnect between ‘sex offenders’ as permanently dangerous and ‘ex-cons’; in the mania’s founding assumptive vision, there is no such thing as an ‘ex’ sex offender. If sex offenders can be rehabilitated (or all by themselves have a lower recidivism rate than just about every crime group but murderers) then the whole mania theory of sex offenders is wrong.

Further, there is this matter of the ‘polygraph examiner’: the Model calls for ‘evidence-based’ information as to the supervisee’s actual activities through the use of a polygraph to verify (or not) his required reports made to his therapist and/or parole officer.

There is a logic to this, human nature being what it is. But alas, what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander: human nature being what it is, humans with great amounts of authority are also not to be easily and wholly trusted. That was a constitutive element of the Constitutional vision of checks-and-balances and also the protection of the Citizens from any excessive pretensions by the police power of the government. For the Framers, there was no ‘good’ victim and prosecutor and some ‘evil’ perp. There were Citizens – at times accused of this or that – and the police power of the government.

And if that sounds odd to you, then take a moment and reflect on just how far this country has fallen away from the Framers’ and the Constitutional vision in the past 30 years or so. *

And naturally, there is a huge question as to how ‘therapeutic’ it can be if the therapist is now bound to be an agent of the State. The military has been seeing this problem in a hellish way, as its own psychologists took part in torture, deploying their skills to help manipulate and discombobulate captives who were reputed to have ‘ticking bomb’ information (as in Fox’s show “24”). Surely, in the confinement or supervision setting, the fact that any comments made might be turned over by the ‘therapist’ to enforcement agents for further investigation and possible prosecution greatly undermines the integrity and efficacy of the therapy (though neatly bolstering mania-supporters’ assertion that sex offenders wickedly refuse rehabilitation).

Before there were ‘terrorists’, let’s not forget, there were ‘sex offenders’ – in case you ever wonder just how important all this is to anybody beyond the immediate SO community.


*For that matter, if I might inject here a personal political observation, I find it increasingly ludicrous that a government that insists it and its agents must never be lied-to by citizens, then goes and starts a monstrously destructive series of military misadventures on the basis of what only somebody who still believes in the Easter Bunny can deny were outright, deliberate lies to The People and to the rest of the world – at the cost of untold numbers of lives and irretrievable fortune.

And should you encounter the attitude that it was all OK because the government meant well, then you can remind yourself that before there was the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan there was the sex offense mania.

Again, I mention this just in case you’re ever tempted to think that working to defuse the SO mania is sort of a far-from-the-mainstream little patch without any wider significance to the nation and to The People.

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