Are we being fair to pedophiles?

Bill Wells Bill Wells 2 Comments

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Today I met with a representative for the Innocent Justice Foundation, a group that campaigns to protect children from sexual predators. After the nightmarish picture she painted for me of child rape and torture in America, I was saddened by the Channel 10 story that Thor’s Assistant had sent to me. (http://bit.ly/dunHpd)

I get the premise: It is compassionate to forgive and we as a society should not over react and over punish the misguided.

But having worked in psychiatric medicine for over 20 years, I can tell you from first-hand experience that the premise isn’t grounded in reality. I’ve evaluated criminals just like those that killed Amber Dubois and Chelsea King. I am fully aware of the dangerous mental condition such predators are in and worse; that nearly all experts agree there is no cure for that condition.

Those who rape and molest children have not just made mistakes. Therapy and treatment does not work in reducing recidivism in pedophiles. The desire to have sex with children and even the desire to kill and torture them has its genesis in adolescence. I know because I’ve seen it and have read the studies of the professionals that specialize in it.

Sadly, this is a dangerous and usually permanent component of the adult predator. Because of this, it is an important distinction, that this type of behavior is not a mistake or even an illness; it is a sexual proclivity that is likely to resurface again and again regardless of the sentence. Chemical castration and or registering as a sex offender does not work because the desire to do act on these impulses is part of the thought process and personality of the offender.

When Polio was an epidemic it effected about 4% of the population and we as a society mobilized to eradicate it. Today about 21% of our children are victims of sexual crimes. Why are murders punished as criminals, but sex predators assumed to be ill? If we called armed robbery a psychiatric disorder, would we stop arresting the armed robbers and demand treatment for them? We need to ask ourselves why we as a society will fight to protect a few children from a disease, but will not protect five times as many children from criminals. Even more to the point, why do we wish to protect the criminals when our reaction should be to protect the victims?

When asking the advocate how helpful the California State Legislature was in this fight she laughed and responded “Not only do they not help, they fight us at every turn”. That’s depressing, and should not be tolerated.

For more information on the Bill Wells for Assembly Campaign see www.VoteBillWells.com

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Comments 2

  1. To my mind, the issue isn’t whether we should protect children but how we can do it effectively.

    Nobody is going to come out and advocate in favor of child molesters. But somebody needs to advocate in favor of taxpayers and rationality. Take the Gardner case, for example. There has been a very significant tightening of the laws since his conviction. Had he been convicted under the current regime, he would almost certainly still be in jail. Nonetheless, there is a huge outcry that we need to tighten the laws so that people like Gardner will not be a menace to society. Perhaps we should evaluate how well the existing laws work before we tighten them yet again.

    The Chelsea King case is a true tragedy but tragedies make for bad laws. We can’t legislate based on what makes us feel good. We have to legislate based on what will do good. For example, law enforcement was strongly against the recent law forcing registered sex offenders to live at least 2000 feet from schools and parks. First, there is no evidence whatsoever that such restrictions prevent crime as sex offenders can always travel to schools and parks. Second, they were afraid that many of these people would end up homeless and, hence, effectively untraceable. That is exactly what happened.

    Taxpayers also deserve protection. I recall hearing a discussion of Jessica’s law on Hedgecock’s show a few years ago. They were talking about how the GPS monitoring requirement would cost about a billion dollars over ten years. One caller said that the money would be well-spent if it protected even one child. Roger agreed.

    Sorry, no. There is only so much money to spend — especially in California. Spending a billion dollars on GPS for sex offenders means not spending a billion dollars on something else. The issues isn’t whether we should protect children — of course we should. Rather, the issue is how we can best protect them with the resources we have available.

    Populist, knee-jerk lawmaking in response to a tragedy is a bad idea. It inevitably makes bad public policy and wastes money. Unfortunately, populist knee-jerk lawmaking gets folks elected these days. And that’s a pity.

  2. Mr. Wells,
    What is it that you do, are you a licensed psychiatrist?

    I looked on your website and it says you have been “…working in local psychiatric hospital administration as Vice President of Business Development and Outpatient Services and in the clinical role of Director of Psychiatric Assessment. My primary clinical focus has been on the severely mentally ill.” What license do you hold that you evaluate criminals?

    Mike

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