Totalitarianism Starts With Those Whom Society Hates

Here are the rules—by court order and coerced “agreement”—by which a Texas sex offender has to live for the rest of his life, even after he has served his entire prison sentences, if some hack psychologist doesn’t want him in his neighborhood and so testified, because of consequential ethics, that the offender is likely to engage in a predatory act of sexual violence:

Texas Sexually Violent Predator Civil Commitment Conditions

If you’re an ordinary person, you probably don’t care much what the State does to a sex offender who has been adjudicated a sexually-violent predator.

If you’re a right-thinking citizen, you probably think, “it serves him right.”

No car, no driver’s license, no contact with children (including his own), no alcohol. No unapproved travel, higher education, or contact of any sort with other humans. Life in a halfway house, regimented schedules, mail monitoring, polygraphs, penile plethysmographs, 24-hour surveillance, and GPS tracking. Mandatory non-private “therapy.” No “deviant” fantasies or “deviant” masturbation (but “positive masturbation is acceptable”). The risk of prison for violating the smallest rule. For the rest of his life.

If, when you read those conditions, you see a giant step toward an Orwellian society and start shopping for another case of ammunition, chances are that you’re a criminal-defense lawyer.

They came first for the sexually violent predators,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a sexually violent predator.

Then they came for the sex offenders,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a sex offender.

Then they came for the felons,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a felon.

Then they came for the misdemeanants,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a misdemeanant.

Eventually they came for me,
but by that time no one was left to speak up.

10 responses to “Totalitarianism Starts With Those Whom Society Hates”

  1. Mark:
    You have certainly hit the nail on the head. I have a client who “possessed” all of two thumbnails on his computer and the prob. officer wants “therapeutic polygraphs.” You would not believe the voyeuristic questionnaire they want him to fill out before the polygraph. The judge does not want to hear about my opposition to it, and tells me to stop obstructing and let my client get on with his life. The guy has never touched a kid in his life.

  2. These added life-long punishments actually began decades ago with the loss of the right to vote and the right to possess a firearm. No one spoke up then, and now we have these seemingly impossible requirements for sex offenders. Montgomery county (shown in your example) has now began a program where the Sex Offender Compliance Unit will drape a large red sign with the words “SEX OFFENDER” written in bold wording hanging on the door of the registered residence if they drop by and no one is home. Presumably this is done to protect the neighbors.

    Nice remake of the classic Martin Niemöller poem by the way…

  3. As I recall, it was Beccaria who observed several centuries ago that the severity of punishment was in inverse proportion to the effectiveness of enforcement. He might well have extended his remarks to treatment. And a good dose of visceral revulsion does nothing to ameliorate draconian treatment.

    If simple severity of punishment were a real answer, we would still be drawing and quartering people. But once we get past the vengeful impulse to inflict pain on those who have inflicted pain themselves, there still remains a significant problem. We really, really do not want people to perpetrate crimes of sexual violence, and we do not seem to have an effective means of deterrence. The law imposes legitimate boundaries on hurting others, and doing so is not a symptom of totalitarianism. It seems to me that there is no question that the current regime is inhumane and ineffective; the harder question is what humane alternative should we pursue?

  4. Well, I can personally testify that all of the above is true. Halloween approaches. Never mind that no one has ever been raped on Halloween nor any children snatched off of the streets during this period, I had my PO tell me that I had to have ALL of the lights out in the house. Since I’m a white guy and used to entitlements and never before experienced living as a minority in this country I asked, ” Do you REALLY mean ALL of the lights? My Uncle owns this huge two story house and is 84 years old. Suppose he falls down and busted his ass, breaking a hip? Wouldn’t that be against OSHA regulations, what is being demanded?” I got the evil eye marking me as a trouble maker. So, WHERE IS OSHA? There’s all kinds of regs covering adequate lighting. Say sex-offender and everyone scatters.

    Don’t even get me started on the Internet. It was never about kids in the first place. But, I cannot use twitter or facebook, while my crime had nothing to do with the Internet. Anyone less than 18 scares the hell out of me now.

    To me, those that kidnap, murder, then mutilate the corpse and then have sex on it, are not sex-offenders. They are insane. But, the papers will be full of “a sex-offender did…”! No, he is a mental patient that couldn’t find a bed. And, that is the problem. How it is that you have to have an IQ less that 70 to prove you are insane after ax-murdering your fellow office workers? That blows my mind. I would never survive being an attorney. Dealing with what you people deal with would cause me to go postal. But, thanks for all that you do. Ric

  5. Or, it can start with an egotistical, narcissistic, power hungry DA, like John Roach in Collin County, Texas. I would say that he does like people that refuse to acknowledge his power or run for office without his blessing.

  6. Great point. Thomas More made the same point in “A Man for All Seasons” when his family members wanted him to arrest a student who was likely to betray him. Here is the dialouge:

    Lady Alice (Sir Thomas’ Wife): “Arrest him!”

    Sir Thomas: “For what?”

    Lady Alice (Sir Thomas’ daughter): “He’s dangerous!”

    Roper (Sir Thomas’ future son-in-law and an apprentice lawyer): “For all we know he’s a spy!”

    Daughter Margaret: “Father, that man is bad!”

    Sir Thomas: “There’s no law against that!”

    Roper: “But there is, God’s law!”

    Sir Thomas: “Then let God arrest him!”

    Lady Alice: “While you talk he’s gone!”

    Sir Thomas: “And go he should, if he were the Devil himself, until he broke the law!”

    Roper: “So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!”

    Sir Thomas: “Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?”

    Roper: “Why, yes! I’d cut down every law in England to do that!”

    Sir Thomas: “Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down–and you’re just the man to do it, Roper!–do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?”

    “Yes, I’d give the Devil the benefit of the law. For my own safety’s sake.”

  7. Let me get this straight — he can be violated for having sexual fantasies about a movie star, or talking about “sexual matters” with a friend, or admiring a pretty woman on the street? Or for flirting? I thought the last of these only happened in the Mikado.

    • to add to Mark, absolutely, and they have a lot of really long and hard to spell names for this.

      In treatment you have to list all these things. What a normal person would see as a normal thing to do, a sex offender in councilling is seen as one step closer to re-offending.

      Lets say a normal non-RSO guy goes to the high school football game, and notices there are cheerleaders. That person is now in a deviant sexual thought. If he looks twice and sees that she is female and is built well, he is now in a deviant sexual fantasy.. total time 2 seconds. and it goes down hill from there.

      Now don’t get me wrong, it can help in real situations where someone needs to identify a trigger to reoffence; However when you go into group and tell them that you needed to change a diaper and it is immediately brought up that you had to have had deviant thought, fantasy, and urge and aer currently in relapse.. it becomes a little pathetic.

      The lunacy of the supposed sex offender relapse cycle that is being identified in RSO treatment is part of the cognitive distortions module that therapists use to classify risk while a person is in treatment.

      • I understand that fantasies may sometimes be triggers. What floors me is the extraordinarily broad definition of “deviance” contained in the treatment contract, which takes in many sexual behaviors that most people would consider healthy and normal. It seems that the treatment program aims to eliminate not only twisted sexuality but normal sexuality, as well as many outlets (such as discussion about sex) that might help the offender learn what normal sexuality is. I don’t quite see the point.

        In practical terms, how often do sex offenders actually get thrown back in for fantasies and the like? Has there been any First Amendment challenge to these conditions? I’d argue that even sex offenders are entitled to some privacy of thought.

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