Sex Crimes

'I'm Appalled,' Says Source of Phony Number Used to Justify Harsh Sex Offender Laws

Claims of "frightening and high" recidivism rates, endorsed by the Supreme Court, have no basis in fact.

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The New York Times

A New York Times "op-doc" posted this week zeroes in on a persistent myth that has helped inspire and sustain harsh policies aimed at sex offenders: the idea that their recidivism rate is "frightening and high," as Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy put it in a pair of cases decided a decade and a half ago. David Feige, a former public defender who directed Untouchable, a 2016 documentary about sex offenders, shows how an uncorroborated assertion in a 1986 Psychology Today article continues to influence the politicians who pass laws and the judges who uphold them.

In McKune v. Lile, a 2002 decision that upheld a mandatory prison therapy program for sex offenders, Kennedy said "the rate of recidivism of untreated offenders has been estimated to be as high as 80%," a number he called "frightening and high." He repeated that claim the following year in Smith v. Doe, which upheld retroactive application of Alaska's registration requirements for sex offenders. As of 2015, according to a review published in Constitutional Commentary, Kennedy's phrase had been echoed in 91 judicial opinions and the briefs filed in 101 cases.

Yet there was never any evidence to support Kennedy's assertion, and research conducted during the same period when it was proliferating indicates that it is not even remotely true. As Feige notes in a commentary that accompanies his video, "Nearly every study—including those by states as diverse as Alaska, Nebraska, Maine, New York and California as well as an extremely broad one by the federal government that followed every offender released in the United States for three years—has put the three-year recidivism rate for convicted sex offenders in the low single digits, with the bulk of the results clustering around 3.5 percent." Studies covering longer periods find higher recidivism rates, but still nothing like 80 percent, even for high-risk offenders.

The authors of the Constitutional Commentary article, Ira Ellman and Tara Ellman, found that the original source of the 80-percent figure—which Kennedy apparently got from Solicitor General Ted Olson, who cited a 1988 Justice Department handbook—was a 1986 Psychology Today article by Robert Longo, a counselor who ran a treatment program at an Oregon prison, and Ronald Wall, a therapist who worked for him. "Most untreated sex offenders released from prison go on to commit more offenses," they wrote, explaining the value of the work from which they earned their livelihoods. "Indeed, as many as 80% do." As Ellman and Ellman pointed out, it was "a bare assertion" with "no supporting reference."

Longo himself repudiated the estimate in a March 2016 interview with Joshua Vaughn, a reporter at the Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Sentinel, saying it does not accurately reflect recent research and should not be used as a basis for public policy. In Feige's video, Longo says it is "absolutely incorrect" to suggest that anything like 80 percent of sex offenders commit new crimes after serving their sentences. That number, he says, was the high end of the range indicated by research at the time, although he once again fails to cite any actual studies.

"You don't cite popular psychology magazines" as a basis for upholding laws, Longo says. "It's not a scientific journal. I'm appalled that this could happen. This is not my intent."

Feige also tracked down Barbara Schwartz, the psychologist who wrote the 1988 DOJ manual that cited Longo's article and was in turn cited by Olson. "I couldn't find any" information on sex offenders' recidivism rates, Schwartz says, "so basically I just made up a model." She had a grand total of six references, including a dictionary and "the paper that Rob Longo did for Psychology Today." Schwartz adds that "the best we were doing was making a bunch of guesses." Relying on such speculation makes no sense, she says, now that there is "hard-core, scientifically based research." She says ignoring the work that has been done since the 1980s amounts to "deliberate indifference."

All the rulings claiming "frightening and high" recidivism rates, Miami civil rights attorney Valerie Jonas tells Feige, "cite to the Supreme Court, which rested its assumptions on nothing." Two cases the Court could soon decide to review give it a chance to do better.

Snyder v. Doe is an appeal of the 2016 decision in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit concluded that Michigan's Sex Offender Registration Act violates the constitutional ban on ex post facto laws by imposing retroactive punishment. The 6th Circuit noted the lack of evidence to support the claim that sex offenders' recidivism rates are "frightening and high," citing research indicating that sex offenders "are actually less likely to recidivate than other sorts of criminals."

Karsjens v. Piper involves a challenge to Minnesota's system of civil commitment for sex offenders who have completed their prison sentences. In 2015 a federal judge said the program, which supposedly is aimed at "curing" its involuntary "patients" but has never succeeded in doing so, amounts to unconstitutional preventive detention, violating the right to due process. Last year the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit overturned that decision. Minnesota's program is based the premise that the state can identify sex offenders who are especially likely to commit new crimes and decide when they no longer pose a threat—impossible tasks, according to Gov. Mark Dayton, who nevertheless defends the policy.

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  1. I’m appalled by what that guy has going on with his hair.

    1. Ken Burns has really let himself go.

    2. I know, right? He looks like he could be a village elder on some Star Trek planet.

      1. Dr. Zaius is one of the foremost experts on filthy human behavior, and his opinions should be taken seriously.

        1. This is why I keep coming back to this filthy hole.

        2. Dang, you beat me to it. I can almost hear him saying “The Forbidden Zone was once a paradise. Your greed made it a wasteland.”

    3. that’s how Davos Seaworth looked in the 70s

    4. Long live Captain Kangaroo!

    5. He looks like Ken Burns’ hippie burnout brother.

    6. He does look frighteningly high in that picture.

      1. I am telling you. It is Ken Burns’ older brother who dropped out of college and lived in Kashmir for 10 years.

        1. “Yeah, i smoked hash out of a human skull. It was far out, man.”

    7. If you worked with sex offenders, you’d want to go with the “not attractive to anybody” look, too

  2. “a 1986 Psychology Today article by Robert Longo, a counselor who ran a treatment program at an Oregon prison, and Ronald Wall, a therapist who worked for him. ”

    An opinion by a couple of “counselors” in the psychological equivalent of People Magazine. And just how does THAT makes its way into a Supreme Court decision?

    1. Who signs the judges’ checks?

  3. “Feige also tracked down Barbara Schwartz, the psychologist who wrote the 1988 DOJ manual that cited Longo’s article and was in turn cited by Olson. “I couldn’t find any” information on sex offenders’ recidivism rates, Schwartz says, “so basically I just made up a model.” … Relying on such speculation makes no sense, she says, now that there is “hard-core, scientifically based research.””

    Excuse me, but since when is it ever acceptable to rely on “speculation” and “basically make up a model?” Peoples’ lives were affected by what you knew was utter nonsense. This is an unspeakable violation of rights that you allowed to happen.

    And people wonder why libertarians mistrust government, and why there are climate change skeptics.

    1. When you are doing “social science” and the “model” supports the conclusion you want. That is when.

      This case sums up so much that is wrong with both the social sciences and the legal system. First, as you point out it is terrible science based on anecdotes and confirmation bias. Beyond that, even if it were good science, there is no way a Supreme Court Justice or any judge for that matter has any business deciding the larger question of how often sex offenders re-offend. They have no qualifications or authority to decide that issue even if they did. Remember, Kennedy is making this conclusion without any investigation or examination of the facts.

    2. Even if he were qualified and did have the authority, it still would have been wrong. The bedrock principle of our justice system is everyone gets their day in court and is judged by the facts as they relate to their case. I don’t care if we know that 90% of sex offenders re-offend that does not mean that every individual sex offender doesn’t deserve their day in court and a fair judgement about their case and the extent to which they are a threat to society by a judge or jury. All these laws did was say “we don’t like people getting their day in court and having their punishment set by a judge or jury so we the legislatures are going to set the punishment for them”. And that is a direct attack on due process and the right to a full and fair hearing. The fact that Kennedy and the majority didn’t see that and thought this case revolved around some utilitarian determination of just how often sex offenders in general reoffend is really the deeper problem with this decision.

      1. I don’t care if we know that 90% of sex offenders re-offend that does not mean that every individual sex offender doesn’t deserve their day in court and a fair judgement about their case and the extent to which they are a threat to society by a judge or jury.

        ^This^

        I don’t know, and really don’t believe, the number to be as low as 3.5%. I think much of that data came from a time when we had prolific misconceptions about pedophilia and perverts and 3.5% seems exceedingly low to support some manner of systematic/cultural concealment efforts.

        The only caveat I would highlight in your criticism is that social sciences is a house built on sand a registry that prevents perverts from leaving their homes 20-30 yrs. ago doesn’t prevent them from chatting and inviting kids to come to their house online today and just shifting or expanding the policy to cover online behavior not only assumes that the house that was previously built on sand is still standing but that you’re, scientifically, on the same (not) firm ground when adding on. It could’ve, in fact, been an 80% recidivism rate back then and be 3% now and return to 80% in 2018 and the law should be insensitive to that.

        1. The truth about child molestation that no one will say is that kids are almost never molested by a stranger. They are almost always molested by someone they know; either a step parent, relative, coach, teacher, family friend or whatever. And they are almost never molested out of the blue. They are “groomed” as it is called. And that doesn’t happen unless the kids’ parents are negligent. Talk to any of these offenders and they will tell you they went for the kids whose parents didn’t pay any attention to them or were in some way neglected.

          I think a lot of the insanity over this issue is people over compensating as a way of avoiding the responsibility that parents have when their kid gets molested.

          1. John, glad to have you back.

            Then there is the Fells Acres syndrome and the wicked Marsha Coakley.

            1. Thanks. And the problem with evil is that the bigger the evil the greater lengths people will go to support it. Walking away from a small evil and admitting your mistake is hard enough. Walking away from a great evil and admitting your part in that is virtually impossible for most people. Coakley probably believed those people were guilty at some point. Once she made that decision there was no going back because to do so meant admitting she railroaded innocent people. And the longer it went on and the longer they were in jail, the greater the evil and the more committed she was.

              1. At the time it took a real hero to side with (falsely) convicted child molesters and call out the wicked Martha Coakley as the real monster. Dorothy Rabinowitz of the Wall Street Journal was that hero.

                1. Yes she was. And even today it takes real guts to stand up and try and be reasonable on this issue. Even pointing out that it is wrong and unjust to send people to jail for years and often longer than actual abusers for the crime of possessing child porn will get you called a pervert and an apologist for pedophilia in most places. People are just insane on this topic. Most of the public is completely incapable of having a reasoned conversation about this issue.

                  1. John, you’re telling the truth to an extent. Grooming happens over a period of days, weeks, months, or even years. It is usually someone the child likes or loves. It is someone who is inside the parents’ inner circle of trust.

                    The only part I disagree with is the idea that the parents are negligent. I guess in some cases where the kid was victimized because the parents let their kid roam the neighborhood without ever having to check in and tell who they are with and where they will be one could point at negligent parents. However, the offenders not only grooms the child, but also the parents or guardians. They know how to act. They know what to say, how, and when to say it. They gain the trust of the parents and have the parents believing that they, the abuser, will be looking out for the child’s safety and well-being. Many parents are simply guilty of being too trusting.

                    From my point of view, anyone my child suddenly wants to start spending unsupervised time with…long periods of unsupervised time with…would raise red flags. First, why would some other adult be so interested in spending so much time and attention on my child. Why does my child want to be alone with this person so much now? Also, the abuser would set off red flags with me if he was trying too hard to find occasions to be alone with my child. Is he a little too eager to babysit? Know what I mean?

                  2. You are so right. I’ve been called a pedophile because I stand on facts and refuse to engage in venomous hatred toward registered citizens. I have been called a pedophile because I don’t back off of the truth about the low recidivism rates surrounding sex offenders; even child molesters.

                    I get the distinct impression that society does NOT want these people to change. Why? To justify their blind rage and hatred of these people; to justify the way they’re absolutely abused under color of law.

            2. John, glad to have you back.

              Seconded.

              The bedrock principle of our justice system is everyone gets their day in court and is judged by the facts as they relate to their case.

              Are you serious? Seems to me that the bedrock principle of our judicial system (there is no justice in our courts) is that everyone must be treated the same. Anything that strays from the standard can be used as a precedent, and that makes things complicated. Perhaps I am wrong, but that has been my observation.

              1. That used to be the bedrock of our justice system. Today, it is as you describe it. I am a bit of an idealist about this stuff.

                1. Why do you call it “justice system”?

                  It’s a judicial system. It’s all about the application of legislation. Justice is not even a consideration.

        2. You all raise valid points, but let’s not overlook the fact that a government employee made up facts out of thin air, and then sat idly by while the entire country went batshit crazy adopting laws to harass supposed “predators” who were supposedly biologically/psychologically predestined to spend the rest of their lives raping children at bus stops.

          And don’t forget the way that “sex offender” was extended to include high school seniors who dated freshmen, and people caught peeing on the side of the road.

          I wonder if the Innocence Project will attempt to have these cases reopened. It should.

          1. What did you expect? Someone with a narrative to admit they caused irreparable harm by pushing knowingly false or likely inaccurate studies?

            They’ll admit it once it can’t really hurt them. Like now.

          2. Nope. They won’t. They only take cases where the convicted is still incarcerated and there is bilogical evidence that can be tested for DNA.

            If you were incarcerated for a crime that never happened, thus there’s no DNA evidence, and you’ve served your full sentence – yet still have to stay registered as an offender, the Innocence Project doesn’t give a shit.

            Happened to a guy I know who’s near 60 years old now. The people who accused him recanted their testimony but the State wouldn’t drop it.

        3. The recidivism rate in general is below 5%. And this is supported by dozens of modern studies across various states and organizations. Another way to confirm this is that well over 90% of convicted offenders are first offenders. And this isn’t a stat that’s difficult to get. It’s a simple cross reference of the persons rap sheet. They don’t get many repeat sex offenders for actual new sex offenses.

          Modern LE statistic that show sex offenders having a high recidivism rate actually use improper data to manipulate the results. They always include ANY violations as part of recidivism. So if a guy is on parole and found to be sleeping in a park and he’s not allowed to be there (and in almost all cases they’re not), that counts as a violation and they use this in their recidivism states to support the “frighteningly high” statistic. The violation had zero to do with an actual sex offense but they use the state anyway and don’t directly disclose this unless directly prodded (which politicians don’t). Once you eliminate these completely unrelated charges and violations, the actual rate plummets.

          That’s not to say there are not completely insane people out there committing heinous sex crimes. But our system paints every sex offender with the exact same brush. From the worst of the worst, to an 8-year-old kid (yes, some states have kids as young as 8 on the public registry), and everything in between.

          ALL of this is allowed to exist and expend because of BS info.

          1. You know what’s so ironic about little 8-year-olds being on a public sex offender registry?

            Here it is (be warned, it’s not pleasant to think about, but it’s true):

            For an adult, sex with an 8-year-old would be prosecuted as child rape all day long, even if the child said to the offender they liked it and it felt good and wanted to do it. Why? An 8-year-old DOES NOT IN ANY WAY have the mental maturity to understand the complexities of a sexual relationship and cannot therefore give legal consent. The child’s too old to understand.

            However, let the 8-year-old instigate sex with another, perhaps younger child, and suddenly he or she knows exactly what they’re doing sexually and can be held criminally accountable for their actions. Now isn’t that the law most hypocritically and cruelly speaking out both sides of its mouth?

            1. I meant to say the child is too YOUNG to understand. Sorry ’bout that. 🙁

      2. Also, I know I don’t speak for all but, welcome back.

        1. Hear, hear.

      3. Even if Longo’s ginned-up 80% “statistic” were correct in the 1970s and 1980s, it would still be wrong to apply it as the so-called justice system does today.

        Back in the 1980’s, the meaning of “sex offense” was pretty much limited to forcible rape, child molestation, and creeps who would expose themselves in a threatening manner (as opposed to college streakers and the like).

        The definitions of “sex offense” and “rape” have widened so much since then that people are capable of believing that 1 in 5 college women are raped during their college years.

        1. That is a great point. In the 70s sex offender meant pretty hard core criminals. Today it can mean that or some guy with the wrong dirty pictures on his computer or some 18 year old kid who had a 15 year old girlfriend.

    3. There would be no climate change skeptics if not for Al Gore. Oh sure, the Kansas City School Board would keep climate change out of the biology text books, but that’s Kansas City. Everywhere else it would be just ordinary science with nothing inherently political about the topic. But Al Gore took the science and yoked it to progressive Democrat politics.

      1. That is true. But there would also be no apocalyptic believers either. Once it got yoked to politics, then either denying it altogether or claiming it was an immediate threat to all life on earth became dictated by politics.

        Had politics never entered the picture, I think it would still be an area of largely unsettled science as the promoters of AGW battled it out with those who think solar activity drives climate. The scientific community could have had an honest debate about it and maybe over time came to a better understanding. As it is, I don’t know how you fix the field. It is so politicized that the best you can hope to do is keep it from infecting other areas of inquiry.

        1. Exactly, the biggest issue is that it became a false dichotomy of either you admit CC is real, and that a full government takeover of industry is the only reasonable solution, or you deny it. This suddenly makes it for many who have any skin in the game a must deny situation.

    4. since when is it ever acceptable to rely on “speculation” and “basically make up a model?”

      You do know that psychology is not a science, right?

  4. I swear that’s the guy who claimed to be a Kolinahr master and wanted me to pay him to put me through the ritual. The whole thing was highly illogical.

    1. More like Colon-ar, amirite?

    2. “Are you sure this is how Spock did it?”

  5. Man, Robert Longo has really let himself go.

    1. So Zeb, you asked me how I had been yesterday. Funny story about that. They banned me from Glibertarians. No kidding. That fact doesn’t really surprise me. I will admit that the internet often brings out the worst in me and I can be an acquired taste. And it is their website. What is odd is that Sloopy has my personal email and invited me to come over there, several times. So, I did and they ban me. Whatever you think of me, I really don’t change. It is a bit odd to invite me over and then ban me. If you don’t like me, why did you ask me several times to come?

      The other thing is I emailed them asking why they banned me. And they never responded. I figure if I am worth inviting and then banning, I was at least worth an obscenity filled rant about how awful I am or a “sorry the politics of the site just couldn’t take it” or something. To say nothing at all and ban me completely out of nowhere for reasons I have yet to figure out, seems a bit cultish. The tribe has spoken and gives no explanation kind of thing.

      Anyway, I have now been banned from two sites in my life; National Review and Glibertarians. I am not sure what that says about me good or bad. It is pretty funny though.

      1. They banned you because you wear sweaters that are too tight.

        1. The bigotry against those of us who like ugly sweaters is a terrible thing. It is a burden Sparky, a real burden.

        2. Which would be fine, if he was also wearing pants.

          1. I thought no pants was cool as long as the sweater was long enough to only leave minimal sack exposure.

            1. So I am comfortable with my body. What is wrong with that?

              1. Leave it to John to wear a sweater that’s too tight and too short.

            2. The degree of sack exposure is what separates the nerds from the hip.

      2. Huh. I knew OMWC (*or whatever he calls himself these days) had a problem with you for whatever reason. But I’m a bit surprised they banned you none the less. I’ve checked the site out occasionally, but not very much. I do miss interacting with some of those people, but it is a bit much sometimes and I really don’t need another site to waste time on all day.

        If you can tolerate the idiocy, I, at least, will be glad to see you commenting here again. We often disagree, but you’re not an idiot and it’s good to be challenged sometimes.

        1. Both OMWC and Sugar Free loath me. Ironically, I often agree with both of them. But, I don’t always agree with them and they are not fond of that.

          And thanks. I don’t always agree with you but you always have reasonable things to say and think about your opinions. You have to respect that even if you don’t agree with the opinion. But unthinking opinions drive me crazy even if I agree with them. Getting the right answer but for the wrong reasons in many ways bugs me more than the wrong answer, which is odd I know.

          1. I think OMWC (which has always struck me as a creepy handle) pretty much runs the site, so that probably explains it.

            1. I thought it was sloopy, but apparently not. The last thing I posted on there was a response to OMWC about how “standing by your principles” is usually just a rationalization for not making a hard choice or for pursuing your own self-interest. And how figuring out your principles is the easy part of life. The hard part is living in the real world and making decisions and moral sacrifices where perfect options are never available. I don’t think he liked that very much.

              1. I always liked sloopy, and I always thought OMWC was a curmudgeon. Now he’s a curmudgeon with power. Not good.

                1. Like I say below, you would think a Libertarian site or one that thought of itself as one would understand the problems with arbitrary power and the concept of “you today and me tomorrow”. If it really is OMWC calling the shots over there, and I honestly don’t know who is, I won’t be the last person who runs afoul of him. That won’t end well.

                  1. OMWC and his wife pretty much created the site.

              2. OMWC is probably a she

              3. The hard part is living in the real world and making decisions and moral sacrifices where perfect options are never available.

                I quoted some stuff from Mencken about “morals” and it went over the heads of some of the people there. One’s “morals” are much more fluid than one’s “honor” – we all say things we regret we didn’t say better at the time, but an honorable person will forgive an occasional slight to his ego (though it may take a few days).

      3. Wow … banned at TOS? What kind of libertarians are they over there? Seriously, I never read anything you wrote over there that was ban-worthy.

        1. Me either. The fact that they asked me to come over and then banned me is what puzzles me. Love me or hate me, I am nothing if not consistent. It would have been one thing if I had shown up uninvited and everyone said: “I hate that guy”. But to invite me and then ban me for no apparent reason is pretty odd.

          I don’t think they realize that going down the ban route is a road to nowhere. Once you start banning people for just having an opinion or a way of expressing it someone doesn’t like, where does it end? Let a board operate long enough and everyone is eventually going to get offended over something. And of course like all power even something as petty as the power to ban someone from a board goes to people’s heads. So, eventually, you end up banning your site into oblivion. It is a bit ironic that a group of self-proclaimed libertarians immediately upon getting power over their own board forgot the concept of “you today me tomorrow”

          1. Nobody invited me, I just barged in. Invites sound too high-school-cliquey for me.

            1. I could have barged in. I just came because they asked me. Had they not, I probably would not have.

              1. I only go there because this site still has occasional fits of TDS and Dalmia and I need to get away rather than act as a co-dependent.

      4. They banned me from Glibertarians.

        I was invited but haven’t participated. The fact that they want it to be an echo chamber has put me off. I like to argue with Tony and Red Tony from time to time. Keeps life interesting. Sometimes I even learn something. I don’t learn anything from people who agree with me.

        1. I think it’s basically an echo chamber of Ron Paul-esque Republicans.

          1. I read the no-trolls policy and haven’t visited the site since. I’m on the Reasonoids google group and read the emails. Reply occasionally. But I want nothing to do with the glibs.

        2. That is how I feel. I am probably too direct and nasty with my language sometimes, but I am always honest with my opinions and I never hold a grudge. And as you say, you actually learn shit if you talk to people who think differently from you. What a concept?

          1. Like I said before, it’s nice to have you back.

            I like to argue. If they’re going to ban people who say things worthy of an argument, where is the fun? The whole thing that makes this comments section interesting is that idiots are allowed to be idiots. And those of us who are not idiots can have fun putting them in their place. Glibs took that away. No fun. Fuck them.

            1. Yeah, ban no one, well bots I guess. My ban was because of that.

              With John back and Agile Cyborg back as well, it’s feels almost like it did when I first started lurking two years ago. All good people.

              1. All good people.

                Well, almost.

              2. All good people.

                [citation needed]

                1. I just like everyone except AmSoc/Dajjal/Whoever he is now. I assume he was Josef Robespierre Stalin, but if not I dislike him too.

      5. I’ve been banned from Naked Capitalism, SB Nation, and MLB Trade Rumors.

        1. I have come to the conclusion that if you haven’t been banned from at least a couple of sites, you likely are not telling the full truth. People don’t like the truth.

  6. Mark Twain said it best: “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” Putting that lie out there to run amok is a well-established staple of liberal “policy”, even today while BLM activists rant about black youth “across the country” being murdered by police, and name at the top of their list people like Trayvon Martin (not a police case), Michael Brown (killed while assaulting a police officer, DOJ found no civil rights violation), Freddie Grey (died in police custody, officers acquitted, also no civil rights violation).

    The simple fact is that truth has a chilling effect on emotion, and liberal politics is all about emotion. Lord help us all

    1. Trayvon Martin (not a police case), Michael Brown (killed while assaulting a police officer, DOJ found no civil rights violation), Freddie Grey (died in police custody, officers acquitted, also no civil rights violation)

      One of these things is not like the others. Hint: it’s the one where police officers put a dude in the back of a van and then intentionally rattled him around until he broke his neck.

    2. liberal all politics is all about emotion

      FTFY

      1. The politics of two wolves and sheep deciding what’s for lunch, yes.

        The politics of we can take your shit because others need it, yes.

        The politics of security necessitates that we can grab and grope and poke and prod you, yes.

        The politics of leave me alone, no.

        The politics of don’t take my shit, no.

        1. All politics is about emotion.

          You can “refute” that statement if you like, but you would be wrong.

          1. Well, I would agree that its okay to add some emotion as frosting upon a cake baked of fact and reason.

            1. When you arrive at fact and reason, ask yourself how you got there. Is a fact a fact because it feels right to you? Maybe yes, maybe no, but think about it.

              1. Some of us who don’t listen to Ke$ha are able to start with premises and come to conclusions based upon reason and logic.

                1. Why?

              2. It’s a big question, but one people need to grapple with.

                Our core choice of beliefs, of what we believe to have value are ultimately ex nihilo. You can argue that you can proceed consistently (aka logically) from some core beliefs, but those core beliefs are your own.

                1. ^This guy gets it.

                2. I think the thing I think about the most is, we basically require that we have our axioms from which we proceed, but is there any meaningful system that allows us to compare two axioms and say one is more reasonable?

                  The common system we see is that people prefer simple axioms. Though not exactly what Occam’s Razor says, that basically sums up this idea that simplicity is preferred over complexity. But even that is a belief that we choose to have. There is no external validation to that statement.

                  1. is there any meaningful system that allows us to compare two axioms and say one is more reasonable?

                    Good question. I try to take things to their logical conclusion and compare that way.

                    1. I try to take things to their logical conclusion and compare that way.

                      That’s what most people do. It’s called rationalization.

                3. Yup. And I don’t think that it’s unfair to say that for the most part those core beliefs come from emotion. I don’t like having my stuff taken or being told what to do because it pisses me off, not because I have an irrefutable proof that those things are morally wrong.

                  1. You two can now feel free to do the Smarty Pants Dance.

                    1. Smarty Pants Dance

                      Is that a Ke$ha song?

                    2. You have an unhealthy obsession with Kesha.

          2. I would tend to agree with that. When it is not politicized, it is simply called administration and nobody gives a hoot.

            Put some people in Congress who don’t want the job, regardless of their politics, and reform will happen as administration takes precedence over legacy building. When the pandering for election is factored out, Representatives will be much more interested in making sure the next guy can’t rig the system to take their shit away.

            Currently, the hand of self-interest guides the panderers to promise ponies and rainbows. And party politics ensures the hand-off to the next sycophant in line.

    3. From where Brown turned back towards Wilson he made it 22 feet. The audio of the shots lasts 3.5 seconds. Do the math and you find he was only moving at 4 mph not charging “full speed” as Wilson testilied. This was after he had run away from Wilson 175 feet. Not much of an assault.

  7. Someone I know went to prison and served his time at a place where there were a lot of child-sx offenders (although he himself was not one). He told me that he was surprised by their attitude toward the mandatory therapy/conversion program. The program apparently involved, among other things, use of a device which they called the “peter-meter”: a sensor they strap onto the inmate’s dong which measures hardness, blood-flow, and arousal. You put this thing on, then look at pictures of children, and try to prevent yourself from being aroused, by an act of will. I don’t know how effective it was, but the inmates’ attitudes toward the program was a little surprising: they were EXTREMELY GRATEFUL, they hoped it might enable them to re-enter society and lead normal lives.

    1. That doesn’t surprise me. There are a small number of such offenders who are true monsters who see nothing wrong with what they are doing. The rest I think tend to be people with the misfortune of finding children sexually attractive for whatever reason and have extremely poor impulse control and a deep seated self-destructive streak. To actually molest a kid in this day and age is the surest way to risk ruining your entire life and being a complete social outcast. I think most people who actually act on these urges do so as an act of self-destruction. They hate themselves for having the desire and then act on them both out of poor impulse control and in the sub conscious hope, they will be caught and punished.

  8. Back in law school I wrote a paper for my Constitutional Law class regarding the history of regulating child pornography and constitutional challenges thereto. My takeaway from the legislative history research I did for it is that virtually all statistics used in various legislative hearings and court decisions supporting laws relating to child pornography and child sex abuse are either just outright fabrications (e.g., the recidivism rate issue discussed here) or, at absolute best, establish only correlations that are of dubious value to actual policy-making decisions (e.g., the frequency with which people charged with child sex abuse are found to also possess child pornography).

    1. All of that is exactly right. The problem with the child porn versus child abuse correlation is that we don’t know what we don’t know. Of course, people caught molesting children are also often caught with child porn. People like porn that fits their sexual tastes. People who have sex with adults often have adult porn. That doesn’t mean that they have sex because of porn. It means they like the porn because it fits their sexual tastes.

      The question is how many people who view child porn don’t ever act on it. And that is a very difficult if not impossible question to answer. Since child porn is illegal, there is no reliable way to determine just how many people view child porn. And since child molestation is illegal, no one caught with just child porn is ever going to admit to it even if they are guilty.

      So, all you can say with any certainty is that most people caught with child porn are not known to be actual molesters and most actual molesters who are caucht are also found with child porn. There is an entirely unknown group of people out there who are viewing child porn but not getting caught. There is no way to know what the real correlation is, if any, without knowing about them.

    2. The other thing is that there is no getting around that the criminalization of child porn possession is a thought crime. The idea that a child is harmed when some stranger years later and thousands of miles away looks at their photo without them knowing it, is absurd. It just doesn’t make any rational sense. Moreover, the prosecutors and police don’t really believe that themselves. If they did, they wouldn’t ever look at child porn as part of prosecuting it or keep the giant database of it that the FBI keeps. And let’s not forget that the FBI a couple of years ago took over and ran a huge child porn server for several weeks as a honey trap. If you believe that children are harmed by someone seeing this stuff, then the FBI was for several weeks in 2015, engaging in child sex abuse on an industrialized scale. No one believes that. It is just a fiction used to get around the fact that child porn laws are thought crimes.

      1. I believe the rationale is that demand creates supply. So people viewing child porn creates more child porn. If everyone who looked at the stuff was locked in a cage, then there would be no demand. With no demand, people would stop making it. The exploitation would end.

        It’s bullshit, I know. But seeing a point of view doesn’t equal agreeing with it.

        1. That is another one of the rationales. The funny thing is that if you really believe that, then one solution to the problem would be to flood the internet with child porn. That way there would be no incentive to create more. If demand really creates supply and creating the supply causes harm, then use the existing supply to meet the demand. I doubt they would buy into such a solution.

            1. That to me is one of the biggest LEO scandals of my lifetime. Not that it surprises me or anything but it really was a new low even for the FBI. Sorry, but I have a real problem with my tax money going to run a child porn network. I don’t care how many hapless bastards they caught with it.

              And while the FBI was doing that. Omar Mateen was doing everything short of signing a pay per view contract for his eventual murder of 50 people at the Orlando nightclub. The FBI couldn’t be bothered with that but they were all over people downloading dirty pictures. Fuckers.

              1. It’s because all of that is hard. We have all this information, and everyone claims that they know what’s going on. It is simply not true. We have billions of data points of which a billion-1 are noise. Catching an individual actor is incredibly difficult, almost impossible. This is also why they always drudge up statements about how no one sees the cases that don’t happen. That is, the cases the FBI claims they successfully shutdown.

                So, they highlight what they can do, which is bully people online and act righteous about it.

          1. Well flooding the market very obviously will in no way deter more production. It would actually increase it. Why am I so confident in this? Because if flooding the market actually resulted in “no incentive to create more”, regular porn production would’ve stopped a decade ago when the internet already had more porn than anyone could possible view in a lifetime, even on continues play.

  9. I waited and waited and yet no one brought up Yes Minister in this thread before now.

  10. Wait a second. Even if we assume that sex offenders have high recidivism rates, how does that justify the harsher penalties? Wouldn’t we need more evidence that harsher penalties actually translate into fewer crimes? I’m pretty sure nobody has actually provided any such evidence of *that*. It’s just another unwarranted assumption.

  11. In light of this frank and honest article, I have only one question: Why haven’t any of the attorneys who have filed challenges to the sex offender registry laws ever put this man on the witness stand, along with Barbara Schwartz and get them to testify under oath about the “frightening and high” myth and the fact that Barbara Schwartz made up the “model sex offender treatment program” out of thin air. Heck, even though they’re speaking out now, they should be made witnesses and deposed so that their testimony is in the record officially. Their testimony alone should be enough to knock the registries and their restrictions down.

    1. Because most of these things are judged in appellate courts where lawyers argue over briefs in private. They don’t actually hear witnesses on a stand like a trial courtroom. It’s much easier to dismiss facts when there’s no public accountability to them and the judges can just dismiss them in their majority opinion.

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