US Locks Up Perverts for Crimes They Might Commit
The 'New Yorker' looks into America's sex-crime laws
By Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff
Posted Jan 7, 2013 7:10 PM CST
The US is able to keep sex offenders imprisoned indefinitely.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – The US justice system is punishing child-porn consumers in an unusual way—for crimes they may one day commit, writes Rachel Aviv in The New Yorker. Using sex crime laws that first arose in the 1980s, officials have discarded First Amendment protections for child porn users, and now keep prisoners locked away if they seem unable to refrain from sexual violence or child molestation. But that hinges on unreliable psychological tests that can leave inmates rotting in cells or treatment centers for much of their lives. In 2007, for example, about 4,500 sex offenders had been civilly committed, and just over 10% had been let go.

The New Yorker follows the plight of a man named John, who at age 31 started downloading child pornography and rendezvoused with an underage girl with the intention of having sex. John insists he's never had sex with a minor, but his 53-month sentence has dragged on for several more years because of negative psychological evaluations. He ended up in a treatment center called Butner, where patients are known to exaggerate their sex crimes to avoid being sent back to prison—where sex criminals are generally treated like dirt. John refuses to invent crimes he's never committed, and can't believe his thoughts are enough to keep him locked away. "There is definitely something wrong with me," he admits. "But it's not the thing they're locking me up for." Click for the full article.

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Jan 9, 2013 4:56 AM CST
I think a basic starting point here is routine castration for convicted pedophiles (not sex offenders, the definition there is massively too broad. Public urination falls in that category, for example). If we limit one of the root causes, it makes rehabilitation, reintegration and public safety a much more manageable issue. From an ethical standpoint, anyone who sexually assaults a child is inherently unfit to ever raise one, so there is no conflict I can see.
Jan 9, 2013 12:55 AM CST
Maybe the punishment for using child pornography should just have a harsher sentence so it isn't an issue of pre-emptive lock up. If someone spent 20 or so years in lockup regretting looking at this stuff they will never ever go near a child or die in prison waiting to have the chance. Sorry ZERO sympathy for child sex offenders.
Jan 8, 2013 10:12 PM CST
How about this: Allow the purchase and ownership of an inflatable/full silicone kiddie sex doll so these pervs can have all the fun they want so they don't have to go after REAL kids!!! I'll also be the first to say if ANY of these pervs has one or more of these dolls and still procedes to molest a real kid I say immediate execution.