Ethics Quote Of The Week (“Believe It or Not!” Division): The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

“We fail to see any reasonable connection between this defendant, his conviction more than a decade ago, his failure to fill out paperwork, and the government-mandated measurement of his penis.”

—- The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, rejecting as “extraordinarily invasive”a Vermont sex offender treatment program that required David McLaurin, who was convicted of producing child pornography, to submit to “penile stimulation treatment” as a condition for supervised release. He was shown child pornography images as the blood flow to his penis was measured.

Cheer up, could be worse, You could be in Vermont...

Cheer up, Alex…it could be worse, You could be in Vermont…

McLaurin was arrested in 2011 for violating the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, which requires offenders to register and keep current their address information. He  received a sentence of 15 months imprisonment with five years of supervised release.

“The size of the erection is, we are told, of interest to government officials because it ostensibly correlates with the extent to which the subject continues to be aroused by the pornographic images,” the opinion states, dryly. The testing was apparently developed by a Czech psychiatrist and used by the Czech government as a way to identify and “cure” homosexuals.

Uh, yes, I’d say the court got this one right.



Facts: ABA Journal



12 thoughts on “Ethics Quote Of The Week (“Believe It or Not!” Division): The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

  1. Wow.

    Everyone, yes EVERYONE, to some extent (greater or lesser) is driven on occasion by wrong impulses. The difference is that the vast majority of civil people are self-disciplined enough to fight those impulses (whatever character they may be – alcoholism, sexual perversion, the thrill of law breaking, jealousy, greed, etc). But, those impulses are still there. If this guy has been found guilty and served his time and now re-broken the law, but a condition of determining his level of “cured-ness” is a measure of the impulse that inevitably still resides in him (whether or not he has disciplined himself from it) seems remarkably unfair. It’d be like deciding if an alcoholic is no longer stimulated by alcohol as a condition for deciding they no longer have an alcohol abuse problem. I know several recovering alcoholics, who know that they still love booze, but their recovery is wholly based on self-discipline…either brute force self-discipline of fighting the urge or more primal self-discipline of knowing the end result of alcoholism is uglier and worse than the end results of un-fulfilled cravings.

    If this guy’s mental problem is arousal by child pornography, I don’t think any measure of his current state of self-discipline can be reliably measured by his physiological (that is, he can’t control the urge, only his conscious reaction to the urge) reaction to the very problem he is trying to control.

    • The problem is, child molesters can’t be rehabilitated.
      It’s not IF he is going to re-offend, it’s WHEN he is going to re-offend.

      Every single time I think of 9 yr old Jessica Lunsford being buried alive clutching her stuffed dolphin after three days of rape inflicted on her by a “former” child rapist I start getting mean, REALLY mean.
      I don’t care about fairness or rights.
      IMO, you touch a kid, your worthless life is over.

      • Yeah, that’s fair analysis. However, testing someone based on *physiological* responses is not a fair test.

        Know any guy with a pornography problem? Have him kick the habit of watching porn for 4 decades… then test his physiological response to watching sexually stimulating images. Oh damn…he failed the test, he’s still got a problem. Oh wait? He kicked the habit for 40 years? never mind that.

        The test of whether or not someone has fixed their lifestyle is NOT an uncontrollable physiological response, but their self-controllable CONDUCT. Find another test.

        • It should be noted that the recidvism (sp?) rate for child predators is roughly 95%. These guys don’t reform. Once you’ve sunk to the lowest possible rung on the scale of human existence, there’s no way up again. Even if they could, how would they live with themselves afterward? This outrageous “therapy” is such utter, obvious bunk as to warrant a recall for any elected judge or other officlal involved in implementing it. There’s only one way to handle criminals of this magnitude. Do it humanely… but do it. The civil rights and natural protections due our children trump any of their’s.

  2. Thanks for the laugh, Jack! I would not press the “I believe” Button except that you’re a reliable source of news.

    Maye there is science behind this type of “testing,” but it just seems terribly invasive and somewhat cruel… Dangling child pornography in front of a child pornographist is just torturing or goading him to break.

    The saddest part is that the defendant’s lawyer probably neogotiated this approach, in lieu of throwing the perv back in jail for violating probation.

    • Maye there is science behind this type of “testing,” but it just seems terribly invasive and somewhat cruel… Dangling child pornography in front of a child pornographist is just torturing or goading him to break.
      You know what’s cruel?
      Stealing a sleeping little girl from her bedroom and raping her for days while you smoke crack and then putting her in a garbage bag under a heap of dirt.
      THAT is cruel.
      Yes, let’s all worry about the rash of mistreatment of baby-rapers.
      Heaven knows there is a group that needs our help and kindness.
      To Hell with the children they hurt.

      • That’s not a problem with future testing or treatment of the criminal. That’s a problem with society not applying sufficient punishment for the initial crime. I donno, I think a case is SOLID for life imprisonment of the most heinous of these crimes. I think there could be an arguable case for the death penalty. That creep (gross understatement) in Ohio certainly warrants it.

      • Let’s not go medieval, OK? Whatever the crime is, after the criminal serves the time, they do not deserve to be abused.. That’s our law..

        Otherwise how should we deal with teen drivers who kill others while texting? Nothing is more heinous than killing another human being.

      • Because that’s what everyone on the sex offender list did, yep yep yep. No way that any of them had sex with their 2-years-younger significant other, or urinated in public while drunk, or looked at a picture of a naked teenager on the internet. They are all murderous rampaging monsters. That makes it so much easier to demand they are stripped of all rights, doesn’t it? Much easier to sleep at night knowing that no matter how absurd or knee-jerk the punishment being dealt, it’s not to REAL people.

        And @TexAgg, ditto with regards to insignificant punishment. If we don’t think a sex offender can handle living unsupervised, he should remain imprisoned or on parole- if he’s so likely to reoffend that he has to be on a list, he shouldn’t be living free. If he’s out of custody/parole, he should be out.

  3. His original offence

    “He was required to register as a sex offender because he was convicted more than a decade ago of producing child pornography for photographing a topless 13-year-old girl (another story said his daughter) who told authorities she had requested a photo shoot to help her modeling career, the court said.”

    What landed him back in trouble.

    “a Vermont judge sentenced him to 15 months in prison, to be followed by a treatment program that could include the testing, because McLaurin failed to fill out paperwork required by sex offenders. McLaurin had notified authorities that he would be working as a chef at a Putney, Vt., inn in 2011, but he later lost the job and went to the Birmingham, Ala., area, where he was arrested. He was returned to Vermont to face charges and was released from prison in November.”

    Creepy and not believable (excuse) as the first problem is, it seems like the result from violating his probation is a bit extreme. The sex offender laws seem to violate “double jeopardy”, I know they have been adjudicated many times and found constitutional, but they still seem problematic in many cases.

    If the treatment was part of a plea to the violation would that change the ethics of it?

  4. I think I’ll just leave this here…

    For those who don’t have the time to read a very, very long (but extremely thorough and informative) article, the gist is: it doesn’t work, it’s never worked, and it has virtually no basis in medical science. I would say that no matter what you think of sex offenders (I have some opinions of my own that aren’t relevant to this discussion) these devices are clearly unconstitutional.

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