Friday, March 17, 2006

What to do about chronic child molesters.

There was a story out of South Carolina today about a man who was convicted of child molestation in the early 1990's, served his time in prison, got out, and this week two girls escaped from a dungeon he had set up in his basement where he had kept, tortured and raped them.

This is nothing new. The fact is, that pedophiles can't change their sexual appetites. They may be able to control it if they are in an environment where there are no children (such as prison) but there is a great deal of research on the topic, all of which suggests that pedophiles will remain pedophiles despite whatever drugs, physical or psychological therapy they receive, and in many cases despite an earnest desire to change. It is not a choice that one can make (for example, if you are not a pedophile, try to imagine a day when you changed your sexual orientation-- to kids; chances are you can't imagine that, because it isn't who you are. Similarly, pedophiles is who pedophiles are, and they will always be pedophiles).

I've blogged on child molesters before. In a couple of my early posts (such as this one) I proposed that registered sex offenders should be required to wear a tracking device, similar to the one that Martha Stewart had to wear. This would serve two purposes: 1) if a child was abducted it would allow police to quickly get a fix on where any known molesters were in the area, and 2) knowlege of this fact might deter pedophiles from committing this crime in the first place.

There has been some concern that these tracking devices could be an imposition on freedom. I disagree. When a person is convicted of a felony, they give up a number of freedoms that we take for granted, including the unrestricted right of privacy. Sentences can range from a complete loss of privacy (a prison cell) to a small loss of privacy (a weekly meeting with a probation officer). In this scheme, the tracking devices are in the middle; they allow for twenty four hour monitoring as to location, but as long as the offender is behaving hiself (or herself), they don't allow monitoring of specific activity. It is true that a person who is very knowlegeable about tools can remove one without setting off the alarm, but the large majority of people could not do this, and would probably set off the alarm if they tried.

I also favor tougher sentences for child molesters. Child molestation is rape. Period. Rape is the most serious crime except for murder that a person can commit (for that matter, many rapes and molestations include murders, sooner or later as the perpetrator tries to cover his tracks.) And the fact is, that no child molester is 'cured.' So prison at least prevents this from harming others.

However, tracking devices and longer sentences, while they may help, won't by themselves solve this problem.

I would propose that we rebuild institutions which may not be prisons but are designed to separate out people who are a threat to society. These would be similar to mental institutions which were closed in the early 1980's, except that those placed in them would not be mental patients but rather persons like child molesters, repeat drunk drivers and others whose behavior makes them a demonstrable threat to others. These would not be prisons (although their occupants could certainly be sent to prison if they committed a crime while in the institution). Let people in them run a business from 'home', have unlimited (but monitored) family visitation, or even use the internet (with the best possible blocker).

Yes, this would cost money. But it would cost so much more not to.


Karen said...

"I proposed that registered sex offenders should be required to wear a tracking device, similar to the one that Martha Stewart had to wear."

The Martha Stewart tracking device think was a debacle. It was the rethugs way of dangling her before the public since they know she gave generously to the Dem party.

Guess I'm a little off track on your topic but I go ballistic every time I think of what they did to Martha! That said, I agree with your proposals.

Havin' a global warming discussion over at my place & would love your valued input. :)

Anonymous said...

A minor point first, Eli. The tracking device which Stewart wore was worn during the period of her sentences. Requiring such devices for people who have completed their sentences (including parole and/or probation periods) is something I would strongly object to. I've seen nothing about the SC offender which indicated that he had not completed his full sentence.

I do agree that longer sentences are a very good idea when the crime is deemed to be heinous, which child molestation certainly is. There was a case in Albuquerque about two years ago where a convicted pedophile -himself barely an adult - murdered another girl he encountered at the theater where he was allowed to work. That pedo/killer (1) basically received no treatment or punishment during the brief period he'd been incarcerated before the murder; (2) should not have been walking the streets at the time at the time of the murder; and (3) should NEVER have been allowed to get a job at the theater, which frequently put on all-ages musical shows. The system utterly failed in identifying the threat he posed and in protecting society (and specifically the girl he killed) from him.

I'm not ready to endorse your last paragraph, though, at least for those who have completed their sentences. I could only justify such treatment if there were a determination that these individuals were criminally insane, thus justifying the state's stepping in and separating them from society. I think such an argument could be made for many, even most, pedophiles, but am dubious that such an argument can be made for repeat drunk drivers.

Anonymous said...

I was wrong about the SC molester's sentence. He was sentenced to a 20-year term in 1991 for raping a 12-year old girl. Absolutely this man should not have been free to abduct and rape these new victims.

Eli Blake said...


Including the tracking device as PART of the sentence is not unreasonable though. Here is why: first, we already have certain 'life sentences' outside of prison for pedophiles, such as requiring them to register. And given that only murder is a more serious offense than rape, if we are willing to keep murderers in prison for life (which we do) isn't the idea of lifetime out-of-prison monitoring reasonable for pedophiles?

As for the institution, you may be right about drunk drivers, although then what do you do about people who have a dozen or more DUI convictions, and frankly just don't care if they get another one? They keep getting behind the wheel, and one day they kill someone. And living in New Mexico (where I grew up) you certainly are aware of this problem-- NM is one of the worst states in the nation for DUI related fatalities.

The idea for the institutions though is that it is a way to allow people some semblance of a normal life without releasing them into society, where time and again we are shown that pedophiles continue to be pedophiles. We could just keep them in prison for life, but aside from the fact that pedophiles in prison are pretty much the ones who get beaten, raped and knifed the most while they are in there, let's be honest-- it is almost, if not completely impossible to change one's sex drive, and likely most of them would change if they could, but they can't. These sorts of institutions (and the more I think about it, internet would have to not only be blocked but also strictly monitored) provide a humane way of protecting both the pedophiles and our kids.

Unless we are willing to consider more radical, surgical solutions (like frontal lobotomy or castration, either of which I would consider barbaric), allowing them to just walk back into society is pretty much guaranteeing that another kid (or perhaps many) somewhere will be molested. At least with the drunk driver you can say you are rolling the dice, and hoping that that particular drunk driver won't kill somebody before they either kill themselves, die of liver damage, or from natural causes, or maybe even (we can only pray) go to A.A. or otherwise quit drinking but I've had plenty of people who would know, including police officers and psychologists who have worked with pedophiles, tell me that if a child molester, especially a repeat child molester goes back into society and never gets caught again, then that is all it means-- he has gotten smarter so that he doesn't get caught. But you can be sure that as long as it is possible for him to do so, he will desire to molest and eventually will molest children.

Anonymous said...

My ex is a pedophile,he never serve any jail time directly, he took the plea bargain they offered him(nice prosecutors.) He did serve a year in prison for being homeless but that was only 1 short year. I moved to NM(his mom said she wanted to help me and pur kids) it was a lie..anyway he ended up moving to NM and got a young woman pregnant right away. Now he is still registered at his mothers in a small NM town however he lives with his finacee and their 2 young sons in Albuquerque! He isnt registered at her address, he has been there over 6 months. His mom covers for him(she says no way is he guilty) He is a pedohile. He emailed me..telling me how he still loved me, I decided to try and become his buddy. I lied and told him I had thought about certain(sick things) I thought he would admit to molesting our daughters, wel he didnt admit it but then wrote me saying he had thought about it and that he would have..I continued to email back and forth..he admitted to molesting their 6 month old son. I called cps and the police, sent em both the emails..but nothing was done. I told them he was living with his mom, nothing was done. Now he has written me telling me he is having sex with his and his fiancee's 11 yr old neighbor! Again I have called cps and the police..I never could get anyone at his counties sex offender registry office. I called crimestoppers, they claim they will do something. I want him locked up, kids are not safe, his fiancee was young when he met her(about 19 or 20) but she knew his charge. She leaves her young sons with him all day while she works. He has the perfect chance to molest them as much as he wants. A babysitter had called on him right before I had, as the older boy(5) had started wetting his pants and having night terrors. The same thing 2 of our daughters had. I could never press charges, I couldnt prove he molested our daughters. The case with the sitter was investigated by cps but nothing done..Oh and one thing I forgot, in NM he had went to the hosp and was present for the birth of his child. He was still on probation, No contact with anyone under 18! I called security at the hospital and told them. He wasnt kicked out, they called his P.O. and he was arrested about a week after, however no nurses would say he was up there, he got out after 2 charges pressed. I am still hoping eventually someone listens to me and at least busts him for not registering. Pedophiles cant be reformed, they dont deserve ankle bracelets. They deserve to be locked up forever. They will always be predators.

Beautiful Disaster said...

There has got to be something done. This man is tormenting children daily. What the hell is wrong with the police. I suggest you go above their head and contact the fbi or special crimes unit also have the police you reported this to investigated

Anonymous said...

I think we should just execute them all they can Not be rehabilitated the statistics show that. Why should we the taxpayers pay for these people to breathe our air/

Eli Blake said...

However, anonymous, the Supreme Court has ruled that we can't execute anyone for a crime other than murder or treason.

So given that the death penalty is not within the realm of possibility, what would you do? I'd say, keep them in prison as long as possible and make them wear a tracking device after that, or else go ahead and create institutions where we can keep them permanently even after prison.

Grandma said...

I have been dealing with a convicted 2 time felony-1 misdemeaner child molester who unfortunatly just happens to be my next door neighbor. I found out from his wife that he had been watching and fantisizing about my 8 yr. old Granddaughter. I reported it to the police and a report was written but nothing was done about it. His wife knew this for months and never told me therefore in my mind placing my Granddaughter in danger. Let me not forget to mention that she also revealed this information to not just one, but two CPS workers from different states yet nothing was done. This has created a very strained life for my Granddaughter who now for her protection is no longer allowed in my home. This jerk followed me down the street last night and kept his distance after we both pulled out of our driveways at the same time and were headed in the same direction, until right before the 1st stop light we approached then he was right on my bumper, I looked in my rear view mirror and saw a very angry man looking at me. His wife had relayed to me that he has been violent as well. It scared me so I just pulled into a parking lot just past the stop light. I was so upset but also so angry myself that I wish I had stomped on my breaks and let him hit me from behind. I want to put a sign in my yard saying child molester living and an arrow pointing to his house, watch your children.I really dont know what to do anymore! I have tried many web sites trying to find out if I can have him arrested or I'd really like to file a civil suit against him for the emotional harm he has caused my family. I have also had no choice but to put my house up for sale, as I don't want to be anywhere near this sicko. He seems angry with everyone but himself and he's the one who committed the crimes. Yet I personnally feel he has more rights than I or my family do. I say hang the S,O.B's by their private parts or put them before a firing squad, they have no business in society especially if they are still thinking in the manner this --- hole is. His wife should be held accountable as well as far as I'm concerned for not informing someone of his thoughts all summer long while my Grandchildren played in clear view of him. How she can lay next to that man everynight is beyond me. I told her to her face that she was as sick or sicker than he was for staying with him and knowing what she knows. If anyone can give me any information about what I can do beyond what I have already done PLEASE DO ! I am next to calling the FBI that's how desparet I have become! I feel like nothing will be done until another child is hurt which is sad. This man also goes to different counties deer hunting, who knows what he has already done and no-one knows or what he will do, I pray another child like my Granddaughter don't become a target of him again and his sick thoughts. Thank You