109th Congress, Hearing before the, House Judiciary, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security on June 9, 2005: PROTECTING OUR NATION’S CHILDREN FROM SEXUAL PREDATORS AND VIOLENT CRIMINALS: WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE?
The purpose here is to continue documenting events leading up to the Adam Walsh Act. Selected portions of this particular hearing, chaired by Mr. Green (WI), follow:
Specific bills under consideration were not identified in this hearing
Mr. GREEN. [Presiding.] Good afternoon. I want to welcome everyone to the third in a series of important hearings held by this Subcommittee addressing the problem of sexual predators and violent criminals who attack our Nation’s children.
Some might say that we need to treat sex offenders and to rehabilitate them; that we must address the problem by throwing money at sex offenders to break their silence and perverse behavior, to stop them from attacking again and again, from molesting again and again.
My view is quite the opposite. One victim, one child harmed, one child raped, one child molested, is one crime too many. I’m not willing to cross my fingers and hope the problem does not occur again and again. To me, a sex offender who commits one of these heinous offenses has forfeited the right to live with the freedoms enjoyed by law-abiding citizens. The sex offender has forfeited the right to move without compliance with registration requirements; whether it be for a job, for school, or simply to live.
I, along with many others, will aggressively seek to enact legislation following such broad principles. We do so because we remember the suffering caused by crimes committed against Jessica Lunsford, Jetseta Gage, Sarah Lunde, and from my home State of Wisconsin, Amie Zyla, who courageously agreed to testify here today. I’m anxious to hear from our distinguished panel of witnesses.
The sad fact is, every one of the crimes mentioned by Mr. Green, the offender was either denied therapy, refused therapy or was kicked out of therapy, on his initial conviction and imprisonment, and the result was further sex crimes.
TRACKING is not PREVENTION
It is clear, Mr. Green wants "Further Punishment."
Mr. Green, knowing that Dr. Fred Berlin was going to testify in a few minutes, and knowing Berlin would speak about sex offender therapy, Green wanted to get his digs in before Berlin, to set the tone of the hearing. After all, Green was chairing the hearing!
And I now yield time to the Ranking Minority Member of this Subcommittee, the gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Bobby Scott.
Mr. SCOTT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I thank you for holding this hearing on what we can do to protect children from sexual predators and other violent criminals. It’s good actually to hold the hearing. Usually, we pass the bills and then hold the hearing. In this case, we’re actually considering the bills. At such a time, we can actually consider the research to make sure we’re doing the right thing.
Child deaths as a result of sexual abuse or other violence is so tragic as to shock the conscience, and our reaction will be to strike back with all the punitive weight of government. As policymakers, it’s also incumbent upon us not to simply strike back after the events have happened, but to see what we can do to reduce the incidence to begin with.
We know that the vast majority of abusers are either relatives, friends or individuals known to the child and family—90 to 95 percent, according to ‘‘Be a Child’s Hero Network.’’ Most of the cases of abuse are never reported to authorities or ever dealt with in an official manner.
Furthermore, we know that some child offenders are predatory, and repeat their crimes. The vast majority do not, after conviction, create other similar crimes. Studies by the Department of Justice indicate that less than 5 percent after conviction are found guilty of other sexual crimes against children.
So any repeat offense against children is horrible, but we have to consider what we can do in the most cost-effective way, most cost-effective strategies, to reduce the chance that it might happen again.
Mr. Chairman, most of the bills we’re going to consider are the public notification bills. I want to make it clear that having police and supervision authorities aware of all location and identification information about child offenders is not subject to debate. They need to know this information and have this information available.
The question before us is whether or not this information ought to be available on the Internet, and whether that’s productive or counterproductive in reducing the incidence of child sexual abuse. We have limited amounts of money, and we ought to make sure that that money is used as strategically as possible to reduce the incidence of child sexual abuse. Some of these bills cost a lot of money to implement, and we have to consider whether or not it could have been used more effectively other ways to reduce child sexual abuse.
So Mr. Chairman, I look forward to the testimony of our witnesses on what we can do to actually address the problem. And I thank you for convening the hearing.
Mr. GREEN. I thank the Ranking Member for his opening statement.
Witnesses, it is the practice of the Subcommittee to swear in all witnesses appearing before it. If you would, please stand and raise your right hand. [Witnesses sworn.]
pg-4-5)(Her submitted testimony follows her presentation):
...[snip].... Specifically, I want to explain the implementation of the new National Sex Offender Public Registry. ...[snip]...
While citizens can already search existing public State offender registries, that search must be conducted on a State by State basis; a cumbersome and time-consuming process. Limited for-profit sites also offer information from various States by data mining their public registries, often without the States’ knowledge. However, no government system currently exists to link these public registries.
Note: "Data mining, without States' knowledge," that is the first time I have been able to document that the Federal Government is fully aware that State Sex Offender registries are being BROKEN INTO WITHOUT STATES' KNOWLEDGE. What is most important to note is, that registrant information is being CAPTURED by parties that are not authorized to have such information, and, in violation of federal privacy right of registrants. This is no small matter, states and the federal government are required to follow federal privacy laws, and here we see they are ignoring that violations are taking place.
In contrast, the National Public Registry creates a single focal point for citizens to search public sex offender information nationwide, providing timely and accurate information to the public. It is a partnership effort between the Department of Justice and the States to offer secure, reliable, and free-of-charge public sex offender information to citizens nationwide.
The National Sex Offender Public Registry will not collect or retain control over any State data, and there will be no cost to the State or territory to link to the national search site. States and territories need not change or alter the design or functionality of their existing sex offender registries in order to participate.
It is important to note that by allowing States to maintain control over their own data they can remain consistent with their own State laws regarding release of offender information. In addition, because data is maintained under State control, it can be more closely monitored and validated between the States and the local law enforcement agencies providing the information.
I stress that the public registry can be implemented quickly. The Attorney General has challenged us to have at least 20 States participating and a site available for public searches in just 60 days from May 20th, with additional States linked in the following months.
In addition to the implementation of the public registry, the Bureau of Justice Statistics provides NCHIP funds to States that can be used to improve their own sex offender registries. Since 1998, States have used over $37 million in Federal funding for this purpose.
The Bureau of Justice Assistance manages the Comprehensive Approaches to Sex Offender Management Program, which provides funding to help jurisdictions implement sound approaches to managing
sex offenders in the community, while keeping citizens safe.
In fiscal year 2004, jurisdictions in 12 States received a total of more than $2.8 million for these projects. An additional $2.3 million should be awarded this fiscal year.
Note: NCHIP is the "National Criminal History Improvement Program" and a search of the Bureau of Justice Statistics, for NCHIP, reveals many grants, even today. One in particular is "The National Sex Offender Registry Assistance Program (NSOR-AP)," there is more to learn in that document. But, my first concern is, many states are charging registrants FEES to maintain state registries. Are they getting more through grants? Should fees be returned to registrants WITH INTEREST?
pg-14)(His submitted testimony follows his presentation):
... Sex offenders pose an enormous challenge. Most of their victims are children. Most of those children are not members of their own family. Most of these offenders are not in prison. And those that are, tend to serve limited sentences.
A few points: "Most sex offenders victims are not members of the offender's family." The 2003 Department of Justice study seems to dispute what Mr. Allen says (CLICK), in fact, the DOJ reports 46% PLUS are from the immediate family, and another 47% from family and friends; 6% are strangers. I don't know why Mr. Allen uses DOJ studies (see below) but seems to overlook this one.
It is true the majority are not in prison because they have served their time and are, or have been, working themself back into society and becoming productive taxpayers. The same DOJ study shows a very low recidivism rate which, again, is contrary to Mr. Allen's claim of "High Recidivism."
In fact, that same DOJ study also shows that, non sex offenders released from prison commit SIX SEX CRIMES to every ONE SEX CRIME committed by a released sex offender, in the same time frame. Congress with this evidence (Study mentioned in this 2005 hearing and later hearings), and still in 2011 fails to enact any laws to reduce the offense rate of released non sex offenders. Should Congress be called to answer for every one of the victims? The DOJ reported these facts in 2003, and today 2011, they continue to ignore this issue! Is this proof that, prevention is not their goal?
If community notification and tracking is the answer to sex offender recidivism (even as low as it is), why is the same not warranted for non sex offenders who go on to commit FIVE TIMES the number of sex offenses?
While most sex offenders are in the community, historically their presence has largely been unknown to the citizens of that community. Sex offenders represent the highest risk of re-offense. And while community supervision and oversight is essential, the system for providing such supervision is overwhelmed.
There’s strong empirical data that address this issue. According to the Department of Justice, 67 percent of reported sexual assault victims in this country are children; one out of three under the age of 12.
Mr. Allen's is quoting from: Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law Enforcement: Victim, Incident, and Offender Characteristics (Published in 2000) (pg-5) (The remainder, over two-thirds (67%) of all victims of sexual assault reported to law enforcement agencies, were juveniles (under the age of 18 at the time of the crime). More than half of all juvenile victims were under age 12. That is, 33% of all victims of sexual assault reported to law enforcement were ages 12 through 17 and 34% were under age 12.1 (Footnote 1: 1This finding that a third of sexual assault victims reported to law
enforcement were under age 12 largely accounts for the discrepancy between the NCVS and the UCR estimates of the number of sexual assaults reported to law enforcement.)
At the very beginning of that report is this: "The only existing national data collection effort that explored the incidence of sexual assault ignored crimes against young victims. The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) estimated there were 197,000 incidents of forcible rape and 110,000 incidents of other sexual assault in the United States in 1996 involving victims ages 12 or above (Ringel, 1997). Victims reported that a third (31%) of these sexual assaults (or 94,000 victimizations) were reported to law enforcement agencies. However, for 1996, the Uniform Crime Reporting Program (UCR) estimated that there were 96,000 forcible rapes alone reported to law enforcement agencies (FBI, 1997). The UCR does not capture reported crime information on other sexual assaults such as forcible sodomy, sexual assault with an object, and forcible fondling. However, it can be assumed from their relative volume in the NCVS that tens of thousands of sexual assaults other than forcible rape came to the attention of law enforcement in 1996. The large difference between the NCVS and the UCR estimates may reflect differences in the two data collection methods; or, if both estimates are valid, they indicate that many victims of sexual assault are youth under age 12. .... The 1991 through 1996 NIBRS master files contain reports from law enforcement agencies in 12 States:"
First, the data used is from 1996 and earlier, a point in time when registries were NOT IN EXISTENCE in all states, nor had many of the laws cited by Mr. Allen later in his testimony been enacted. The effect of combining those 1996 statistics with laws not yet enacted, leads folks to an erroneous result in 2005 when these hearings took place. True, that doesn't prove the percentage wrong, but it is certainly questionable, and Congress should be made aware of that.
The report cited is from a transitional period, before most sex offender legislation and into the first era of legislation "1994: The Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Predators Act."
In 1997, the Congress mandated the National Center to create a CyberTipline, a national resource for reporting child sexual exploitation. Since 1998, we’ve handled more than 325,000 reports, resulting in hundreds of arrests and prosecutions; 112,000 reports last year alone.
In 1994, Congress passed the ‘‘Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Predators Act.’’ As a result, today all 50 States and the District of Columbia have sex offender registries. This was groundbreaking child protection legislation. However, 11 years later, there are problems in the State programs that we believe thwart the original congressional intent.
Mr. Chairman, you mentioned it in your opening remarks. Today, there are 550,000 registered sex offenders in the United States, but at least 100,000 of those offenders are non-compliant— literally, missing.
Mr. Allen notes two things: In 2005 there are 550,000 registered sex offenders; and, claims 100,000 are missing. First, if there were ZERO registered sex offenders (ignoring California for a minute) before 1994, and now in 2005 there are 550,000, then legislation is doing something and one must assume, states knew what they were doing when they had enacted their individual state laws (Courts will assume lawmakers -in their enactments- are correct and will not second guess lawmakers). Mr Allen's statement seems to take issue with state lawmakers. Second, I'e be hard pressed to believe Mr. Allen is not aware of how the 100,000 number came into being (A series of phone calls made by Parents for Megan's law in 2003), and then was nothing more than a guesstimate based on assumptions made by state telephone calls to people who had no idea how many registered offenders their state had. That story has been documented, see link. Since then (2003), law after law has been enacted based on that erroneous factoid, and is still in use today in 2011; an erroneous number misinforming those in authority!
A great deal of discretion is left to the States—appropriately—in how they implement their registration programs. But the result is that there is a significant lack of consistency and uniformity from State to State. There are loopholes that permit sex offenders to cross State lines and remain undetected. We know that registered sex offenders often forum shop in order to achieve anonymity.
Note: If we were to believe that offenders' forum shop, then there must be a reason for them to do so, that issue is ignored by Congress and State lawmakers and others; anonymity, maybe, but that is to allow them to continue life without further government oppression. Further, if every state has sex offender registration laws, then they also have provisions which show when someone is required to register. So moving from state to state is a non issue because each state's registration laws cover when someone is required to register. There is no reason for federal law to violate the 10th Amendment and to permit second guessing of state lawmakers. Issues with individual states should be taken up with those states, not in violation of the 10th Amendment.
Let me just cite a few examples of the discrepancies we believe exist. In eight States, the burden to notify authorities in the new State to which the offender is moving is solely attached to that offender. So only he has the obligation to tell the State to which he’s moving. In two States, neither the offender nor the State authorities are required to notify authorities in the new State. In another three States, this issue is not even addressed in the law.
There are only five States in which probation and parole must be revoked when an offender fails to comply with registration responsibilities. There are only eight States in which an offender’s probation or parole may be revoked for failure to comply with registration.
In 31 States, the penalty for failure to register is just a misdemeanor. In three States, offenders have more than 10 days to notify authorities when they change their address.
In Weems v US (1910) it was considered "cruel and unusual punishment" for the act committed (a ministerial act) and the case has stood for the premise of excessive punishment for the crime committed, for a long time.We suspect that those who represent the greatest threat to children are also the least likely to be compliant. There are at least 100,000 non-compliant offenders; people like the killer of Jessica Lunsford, who was not where he was supposed to be and whose presence was unknown to police or Jessica’s family, even though he lived 150 yards down the street from her and had worked construction at her elementary school.
As to the State punishment for failing to register which states have deemed a misdemeanor, it is cruel and unusual for the federal government to come along and demand that states make the punishment a felony across the board; an excessive punishment for a ministerial act. States, when left to their own thinking, may very well chose to punish differently than as forced by the federal law. Further, todate, Failure to Register has been interpreted from "I Refuse" to as simple as "I forgot to sign a form" a ministerial act which the state should have picked up during the registration period. And, in addition, the federal law has a hidden "jurisdictional hook" built in to require such prosecutions, when the issues is FTR across state lines, in federal court which ends with a federal sentence with the Bureau of Prisons, and ultimately a civil commitment hearing and possible lifelong civil commitment. There is nothing more cruel and unusual as this constructive civil commitment procedure, and should be deemed unconstitutional!
Based on the claim, that unregistered former offenders are a greater threat than registered former offenders, in September of 2010 Dr. Jill Levenson, in her research "Evaluating the Effectiveness of Sex Offender Registration and Notification Policies for Reducing Sexual Violence against Women" found that such a claim is not correct.
As to the John Couey case, Mr. Couey had asked for therapy years before his 2005 horrendous killing of Jessica Lundsford (As he did after his 1978 arrest, Couey asked for psychiatric help. "Personally, I feel prison ain't gonna help me," he told the police. "I feel that I need help for myself . . . I don't want to go to prison, I want help for myself."), and was DENIED and released from jail, more than once ("He requested mental health assistance for nearly three decades. He told police in 1991 that he had a problem but had not received help to "control his sexual attraction for young children.". Florida and other officials fail to mention this fact, even into 2011. Further Congress and State Lawmakers FAIL to provide funding -for therapy- in any of the laws enacted since 2005!
We need to do a better job of identifying those who represent the greatest risk, and those whose criminal histories should forfeit any right to be on the streets and close to innocent children. But at a minimum, we must know where all of these convicted sex offenders are, and what they’re doing.
Yet the challenge to do that is daunting. We recently surveyed the State registration agencies, and heard almost universally about a lack of funding, a lack of personnel, outdated technology, lack of centralized communication systems. In many instances, registration verification is by mail, and not in person.
TRACKING is not PREVENTION!
Tracking the location of these offenders is only part of the challenge. Equally important is community notification. In 1996, Congress amended the Jacob Wetterling Act to include a Federal Megan’s Law, mandating State community notification programs. States are given broad discretion, but in practice, that notification is either passive, requiring the public to initiate contact to get information, or active, by which law enforcement officers initiate contact themselves through community meetings or posting fliers or visits to residences within a radius of the offender’s address. Today, in 17 States that notification is passive only. Thus, it’s up to the public to continually seek out this information on their own initiative.
COMMUNITY NOTIFICATION: Passive or active? Passive: Allowing the public to seek information when they feel a need to; -V- Active: Government and local officials FORCE FEEDING information whether the public feels it needs such or not. Congress and States have chosen FORCE FEEDING because that way they keep the HYSTERIA FACTOR high so that the public feels it needs the government to protect it.We commend the Attorney General for his recent initiative in creating a nationwide sex offender database. Public access to this information is vital to preventing sexual crimes against children.
Mr. Chairman, in conclusion, the Wetterling Act and Megan’s Law represented a giant step forward a decade ago. We believe that Congress needs to preserve that foundation. But America has changed. Today, there are more offenders; there are new technologies; and there are more, and younger, victims.
We understand that resources are scarce and that there are many competing demands. However, it’s hard to imagine a greater or more pressing priority. Thank you.
In Mr. Allen's "Prepared Statement" contains more than he mentioned during the oral part of his testimony. Folks may want to read it. (Pg-19-bottom)
pg-18)(Her "Prepared Statement" follows her oral presentation):
The only portion of Ms Zyla's comments which I would like to address, are those which speak to the offender and his return to society, with that in mind.
Portions of her comments:
Ms. ZYLA. Thank you. My name is Amie Lee Zyla. I’m here to tell you my story, and ask you to change the law to prevent any future victims. I relived my nightmare because the law gave my abuser, Josh Wade, a free ticket to continue abusing children, and as a result so many more kids and their families have been hurt.
While it was a very difficult time, I came forward when it happened, to stop him from hurting anyone else ever again. I also expected to never have to deal with my abuser again. Then, one day about 9 years later, Josh Wade walked back into our lives. I saw him on TV, and was stunned to see that he was not only out in the community again, but that he had done it again.
How and why were there so many more victims? Why wasn’t he caught earlier? And how did the system break down?
It was wrong that my parents and I did not know he was out.
The simple truth is that juvenile sex offenders turn into adult predators. Kids all over the country need the same kind of protection as in Wisconsin.
When is enough going to be enough? Must we have even one more Jessica Lunsford, or one more Sarah Lunde, or even one more kid like me who must keep reliving the nightmare?
We need a national sex offender registry that includes juvenile sex offenders. Mr. Green has introduced a bill that will do just that; a bill that will ensure all offenders, regardless of their age, will be on the registry, and not able to work with children or hurt anyone else. I ask you to support Mr. Green’s bill and the many other proposals you have heard about today.
There is much which Ms. Zyla does not know about Josha Wade, which took place after his conviction of the crime against her. Ms. Zyla was abused at a very young age, and I doubt she knew anything about the criminal justice system. With that said, are parents required to inform children who have been so abused, of their rights when they come of age?
Is there anyone who -in a criminal justice proceeding- doesn't realize when the judge sentences someone to jail or prison or a juvenile facility, and says xx years to xx years, and the high number means that person will be released at some point? Did her parents forget to follow the case?
In most states when someone is being readied for release, the Prosecutor will notify the victim or the victim's family, and allow them to submit a "Victim Statement" for consideration. Was that available in Wisconsin, and if so, did the Prosecutor follow through?
The therapy background on Joshua Wade:In other words, the state gave up on him, the State allowed him to be released without any therapy! No one mentions this even to this day.
"A juvenile proceeding sent him to a treatment center for indecently touching a 9-year-old girl when he was 15. The records show that he made almost no progress in treatment and so was sent to Ethan Allen School (a school for boys which had no sex offender treatment programs) until he was 18 because he was dangerous. In a 8-2-2005 news article: Joshua M. Wade, who spurred lawmakers to broaden community notification procedures for sex offenders under the so-called Amie's Law, rebuffed treatment after an arrest on a sex offense charge when he was a juvenile, a prosecutor said. "He had an opportunity back in juvenile court to get treatment for this," Waukesha County Assistant District Attorney Brad Schimel said. "He didn't take advantage of it."
"Wade's public defender contended that the juvenile justice system was ill equipped to treat Wade after he disclosed that his makeup was shaped in part by being sexually assaulted by his grandfather. And, after he was released from a juvenile correctional facility, Wade, then 18, was left on his own, according to attorney Samuel Benedict. "There was virtually no planning for his discharge," Benedict told Circuit Judge Ralph Ramirez. "They took him to the Salvation Army shelter and left him at the door. "They essentially said, 'Go figure it out yourself.' " (Source)
pg-21)(His "Prepared Statement" follows his oral presentation):
Dr. Berlin's comments are very important, and I will highlight portions.
Portions of his comments:
I want to make it clear that I do support fully the registration of sex offenders. That means having lists available to proper legal authorities, names that can be distributed to people that need to know, and so on. But I do want to talk about concerns about two things. One is community notification; and the second, I want to make a couple of comments about the role of punishment.
First of all, with respect to community notification, I want to make it clear that the verdict is not yet in on whether or not that is proving to be successful. The State that’s probably had it in effect for the longest is Washington State. I did a follow-up study, looking at what had happened in that State. There was no evidence that it reduced criminal recidivism.
Secondly, speaking out of my own personal clinical experience and research background, it is a sad fact that there are persons out there who want to offend. And if they are on a registry and listed in a community as being present, if they’re listed in community ‘‘A’’ as being present, those people are simply going to go to community ‘‘B,’’ where they’re a lot less known, and still commit an offense.
On the other hand, there are a lot of offenders out there who are trying to succeed. I can tell you that out of personal experience. We, for example, published a large study on over 600 men in treatment. Over 400 had a history of pedophilic behavior. The recidivism rate was less than 8 percent.
The reason I believe that many of those men succeeded in treatment is they were able to get a fresh start. They could get jobs. They weren’t feeling disenfranchised, angry at the community. They succeeded, I believe, in part because they were able to do those things. It begs the question whether, if we drive these people underground, are we actually making the community safer? Again, I think it’s something we simply have to take a look at.No fresh start, disenfranchised in untold ways, the very fact that former sex offenders are subjected to this, and former drug offenders and other crime types are not, I think makes a great case for the courts. I do believe there is no greater proof of further punishment than this. The Second Chance Act, which specifically excludes former sex offenders, is also proof of this. The Bill in the last Congress which denies certain sex offenders from applying for small business loans. Pell grants. HUD Housing laws. And, the strongest proof of all, the failure of Congress to provide funding for sex offender therapy in any of its recent laws, in spite of US Supreme court holding in McKune, Warden, et al. -v- Lile (536 U.S. 24 (2002)):In terms of sex offender recidivism, just a couple of points that I think are important. The U.S. Department of Justice, through the Office of Justice Programs, took a look at sex offender recidivism. Surprised me. I worked in this area for many years. As a group, sex offenders have a lower rate—lower rate—of recidivism than people who commit other kinds of serious criminal acts."States thus have a vital interest in rehabilitating convicted sex offenders. Therapists and correctional officers widely agree that clinical rehabilitative programs can enable sex offenders to manage their impulses and in this way reduce recidivism. See U. S. Dept. of Justice, Nat. Institute of Corrections, A Practitioner's Guide to Treating the Incarcerated Male Sex Offender xiii(1988) ("[T]he rate of recidivism of treated sex offenders is fairly consistently estimated to be around 15%," whereas the rate of recidivism of untreated offenders has been estimated to be as high as 80%. "Even if both of these figures are exaggerated, there would still be a significant difference between treated and untreated individuals")."And I am sure there are others which escape me right now. PROOF!
Asking about the recidivism rate of sex offenders is like asking about the recidivism rate of drunk drivers. In other words, there is no one right answer. There’s a tremendous spectrum.
if you get someone who comes in, who says, ‘‘Once an offender, always an offender’’—and you will hear that—that’s also an extreme statement. It’s simply not in keeping with the facts.
In looking at community notification, we also have to ask whether it could be harmful. Keep in mind, when we identify the offender, we identify his address. Much of offending has to do with things, unfortunately, that go on within the family. There is the risk of inadvertently identifying victims. There is now concern that some victims of incest may be deterred from coming forward.
In terms of the role of punishment, pedophilia is a condition, to give an example, in which persons are sexually attracted to young children. If the only thing we do is punish these individuals, there’s nothing about being in prison that can either erase those attractions or enhance their capacity to successfully resist acting upon them.
Dr. Berlin defines "Pedophilia" and in doing so should make everyone realize, that, such a person does exist and some do break the law committing one or more sex offenses. This is a fact that far too many Advocates forget, these people are the reason why -some form of a registry must exist- or some other way of keeping tabs on these folks when they reenter the community. And we should never forget, the recent case in Cleveland, yes all adults, but that type of person -not a pedophile as Dr. Berlin defines one- also exists. Society needs to keep tabs on folks like this, because after their first offense, they will be returning to the community.
We need both the Attorney General and the Surgeon General involved in this, if we’re going to adequately protect community safety. Let me make it clear, I very firmly support the criminal justice stance. But what is often given very meager attention in all of these discussions is the public health side of this.
Number one, what I’ll call ‘‘truth in language.’’ We used to talk about truth in sentencing. The word ‘‘violent,’’ in terms of its everyday meaning, is clearly not what is being used in many of the legislative bills that are out there. Attempted touching can mean ‘‘violent.’’
The word ‘‘predator’’ often does not have its everyday meaning. Someone who’s exposed himself to a child who’s 13 can be labeled a predator in many of these statutes. Somebody who’s been involved statutorily—a 17-year-old who was involved with a 14-year-old—can be labeled a predator. Let’s have truth in language, so we know what we’re really dealing with.
As you all know, there’s not really much of a balance of advocacy when we come to these issues. We can ask two kinds of questions. We can ask, ‘‘How can society be made safe?’’ All of us want an answer to that question. And the point I would make here today is, if we’re asking how to make society safe, let’s make sure that what we’re proposing has evidence that it’s really going to do that. That’s the first point.
A second question we can ask is not exactly the same question. That is, ‘‘How, in the context of being safe, can we also be just and fair?’’ Now, when we’re in this area, there are people who are going to say, ‘‘Why the heck should we be just and fair?’’
Well, I’ll give you the answer to that. What makes this country—or one of the things that makes this country so great is, not only are we interested in being safe, but we are also interested in being just and fair. That’s what this country is all about.
Above are the significant portions of this hearing transcript with my comments.