Not long ago, Congolese pastor Jerome Muturutsa was fighting deportation from Sioux Falls to his home country.
The 60-year-old was in danger of ejection to his war-torn country over his conviction for a sexual contact crime his family and friends swear he didn't commit.
An immigration judge chose to let him stay, but the parole rules for sex offenders have been so restrictive that his family now says they wish they'd have let him leave the U.S.
Muturutsa's currently detained at the Jameson Annex in Sioux Falls over inconclusive polygraph test results.
"Here, you have no freedom," said his son Michael Gahakanyi. "In the refugee camp, he would be free. Even in the year and a half that he was out of prison, he was not free."
Muturutsa's family, along with supporters like Pastor Dennis Thomas, are learning the strict reality of life for sex offenders on parole in South Dakota.
All paroled sex offenders are given a regular polygraph tests in South Dakota. Dishonesty, dangerous behavior, failure to comply with parole terms or inconclusive test results can land an offender back in prison with the stroke of a parole officer's pen.
For Pastor Thomas, who's so sure of his friend's innocence that he'd feel comfortable letting Muturutsa babysit his grandchildren, the situation feels hopeless.
"I don't think this will ever end," Thomas said. "It's just going to continue on and on."
It will continue at least the end of Muturutsa's parole term, explains Department of Corrections Parole Director Doug Clark.
The polygraph program for sex offenders involves testing at regular 6-month intervals for the remainder of the inmate's sentence, with additional tests as deemed necessary.
Muturutsa was convicted in January of 2012 of sexual contact with a child younger than 16. The South Dakota Supreme Court upheld his conviction a year later. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison and served two of them. His term doesn't end until Jan. 21, 2022.
Whether Muturutsa, his family or his friends disagree with those decisions is irrelevant to the rules the parole division follows to protect the public, Clark said.
"Mr. Muturusta's been convicted of a crime, and that conviction's been upheld. The DOC's duty is to uphold the ruling of the court," Clark said.
The Sex Offender Management Program supervises around 1,000 inmates inside the prison walls and another 320 on the outside, according to program manager Greg Brostad. Each offender is given a set of goals and objectives based on their offense and their personal, educational, employment and criminal history and a host of psychological testing.
Paroled sex offenders are expected to work toward those goals and to abide by their parole supervision agreement, which says an inmate must keep away from drugs and alcohol, obey all laws and must keep the parole officer informed of changes in housing or employment.
The polygraph examinations, though inadmissible in criminal proceedings, help parole officers determine if sex offender parolees are being honest about their urges, their actions and their compliance with their goals, Brostad said.
"The type of questions depend on the type of offender," Brostad said.
With Muturutsa, the polygraphs took on additional importance. Many of the background records used to form a psychosexual history and a plan for treatment were unavailable from his home country.
Muturutsa came to the U.S. after years in a Burundi refugee camp, where his family was forced to flee due to ethnic violence. His official birthday in the U.S. was deemed Jan. 1, 1955, as his actual birth records are unavailable.
Inconclusive polygraph tests, even for inmates with complete histories, give parole agents and treatment providers little to work with. Several inconclusive tests don't prove that a person's done anything wrong, but it doesn't offer any proof that they haven't, either.
"If a guy's got three inconclusive polygraphs, we don't have an idea of how that person is managing in the community," said Dr. David Kaufman, who provides sex offender treatment for the DOC.
The decision to detain a sex offender for multiple inconclusive tests is part of what's called "the containment model" approach, Clark said. Uncertainty about current behavior is the issue, not denial of previous behavior.
"The vast majority of polygraph examinations we do are behavior polygraphs," Clark said. "They're not connected to the crime specifically."
Muturutsa has not been classified a parole violator yet. He's currently on detainer status, meaning he could be held for 30, 60 or 90 days while the parole board waits to make a decision on whether to hold him for the remainder of his sentence over the flubbed tests.
Thomas is troubled by the idea that his friend has been locked up for uncertainty alone, especially given that English is Muturutsa's second language.
If the question is about behavior, Thomas said, there are plenty of people who can talk about it. And Muturutsa attended a weekly prayer gathering each Saturday, worked during the week at the Center of Hope, and Thomas took him to his parole agent meetings.
When parole agents told him not to leave the state for one daughter's graduation, he complied. When they told him not to leave for another daughter's wedding, he complied. After the series of inconclusive tests, Muturutsa's family was not notified of what happened, Thomas said.
"Is that America, where you take someone away from their workplace, arrest them and don't say anything to the family?" Thomas said. ..Source.. by John Hult