Monday, June 6, 2011

Witch Doctor Decides Whether Men Stay in Jail or Are Freed Based on Junk Science Polygraphs of Their Penises

There's a disturbing piece out of South Carboline today about a physician named William Burke who works with men both convicted and accused of sex offenses: Do not read it on an empty stomach.

Shackled and handcuffed, the males are forced to sit for hours in a small room with a state-of-the-art plethysmograph firmly attached aroung their penises while they are subjected to pornographic visual and audio stimulation to test whether they have deviant responses.  An armed guard hovers over them during the humiliation. It's called penile plethysmograph testing, clinically called "PPG" testing and non-clinically called "Peter Meter" testing. In PPG testing, men and boys are subjected to a sort a junk science polygraph of their penises.

PPG testing is a procedure that "involves placing a pressure-sensitive device around a man's penis, presenting him with an array of sexually stimulating images, and determining his level of sexual attraction by measuring minute changes in his erectile responses." Jason R. Odeshoo, Of Penology and Perversity: The Use of Penile Plethysmography on Convicted Child Sex Offenders, 14 Temp.Pol.&Civ.Rts.Rev. 1, 2 (2004).

Such testing has become routine in adult sexual offender treatment programs, with perhaps 25 percent of adult sex offender programs employing the procedure to varying degrees. It is often imposed as a condition of supervised release (probation), and is used to determine treatment and even as a basis to decide whether even presumptively innocent men should be released from custody before trial, or from a treatment program after conviction. And, yes, boys as young as twelve are sometimes subjected to the procedure.

It is well to note that results of such testing are not admissible in criminal trials because the testing is considered unreliable due to the absence of standardization, results that are not sufficiently accurate, results that are subject to faking and voluntary control by test subjects, the high incidence of false negatives and false positives, and the fact that results are open to interpretation. Yet, this horrid device is allowed to be used to affect the liberty of significant numbers of men and boys. And hardly anyone gives a damn.

Ask yourself whether women's groups would tolerate a procedure that forces women and girls to be shackled and to become aroused as a condition of their probations. The question scarcely survives its statement.

The witch doctor often plays a significant part in determining whether men are freed or if they stay behind bars. Here's what Dr. Burke said: "If a man accused of molesting his stepdaughter is brought in and tests positive for arousal to young girls, I will suggest he not be allowed back home."  Yet Burke concedes that "it's certainly possible that someone might have some arousal to kids and he didn't do it."  But "I'm not going to be able to sleep at night if I think I've played a part in somebody dangerous getting out."

Tell me this, sir: are you able to sleep at night if you think you've played a part in keeping an innocent man behind bars?  Or let me guess: that's not nearly as much a concern to you, is it?

A female judge writing for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in United States v. Weber, 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 15111 (9th Cir. 2006) wrote: ". . . this test is not a run-of-the-mill medical procedure. Plethysmograph testing not only encompasses a physical intrusion but a mental one, involving not only a measure of the subject's genitalia but a probing of his innermost thoughts as well." She also wrote: "It is true that cavity searches and strip searches are deeply invasive, but [plethysmograph testing] is substantially more invasive. Cavity searches do not involve the minute monitoring of changes in the size and shape of a person's genitalia. Nor do such searches last anywhere near the two or three hours required for penile plethysmography exams. Nor do cavity or strip searches require a person to become sexually aroused, or to engage in sexual self-stimulation."

Judge John T. Noonan wrote separately in the same case and eloquently said the following: ". . . the Orwellian procedure at issue to be always a violation of the personal dignity of which prisoners are not deprived. The procedure violates a prisoner's bodily integrity by affecting his genitals. The procedure violates a prisoner's mental integrity by intruding images into his brain. The procedure violates a prisoner's moral integrity by requiring him to masturbate. By committing a crime and being convicted of it, a person does not cease to be a person. A prisoner is not a mere tool of the state to be manipulated by it to achieve the purposes the law has determined appropriate in punishment. The prisoner retains his humanity and therefore has purposes transcending those of the state. A prisoner, for example, cannot be forced into prostitution to aid the state in securing evidence. A prisoner, for example, cannot be made to perjure himself in order to assist a prosecution. Similarly, a prisoner should not be compelled to stimulate himself sexually in order for the government to get a sense of his current proclivities. There is a line at which the government must stop. Penile plethysmography testing crosses it."

The men subjected to it describe it as "humiliating." See here: In prison, the humiliation factor is even greater. One prisoner described being taken into a room where he "was made to sit in a chair naked from the waist to the knees. A clamp was put on -- midshank on the penis" and then he was forced to listen to an audio description of vile, disgusting sex scenes. Inmates who refuse to participate are transferred to the maximum-security area, where more violent and dangerous inmates are held, and the parole board discriminates against convicted sex offenders who do not complete the program. See here:

In Canada, boys as young at twelve had been subjected to it for twenty years until the government put the kibosh on it. The tests involved attaching a penile plesthysmograph to adolescent boys' penises to measure sexual responses. The youths, aged 12 to 17, were shown photographs of naked or semi-naked adults, children and infants. The government "nipped the program after learning about the creepy Clockwork Orange nature of penis-measurement science, alongside revelations of a Youth Services medical technician charged with an unrelated sexual offense." See also here:

So what's really behind this nonsense? Obviously, financially interested persons and entities that make the machines and administer the testing want to see it continue. The feminist community that dominates the public discourse about rape and sex offenses seems to have precisely zero concern about this method of controlling male sexuality. Law and order types are just fine with it.

But how on earth does a supposedly civilized society tolerate it? Here's what one expert explained -- and be forewarned, his explanation is chilling -- it's all about humiliating sexual deviants:

"Perhaps the decision to require PPG examinations is driven by motives and factors generally unacknowledged by its proponents. Indeed, one might wonder whether some authorities require PPG tests precisely because of the procedure's unpleasant character. Some, for example, might regard the humiliation and embarrassment that the procedure involves as a legitimate form of punishment for the offender's crimes. Some might also tacitly approve of the procedure's intrusive character because it serves to remind the offender of the state's power and signals to him the government's ability to put even the most private aspects of his mental and physical existence under surveillance. But to the extent that such unspoken considerations play a role in policies requiring sex offenders to undergo PPG tests, they ought to be stated openly and their merits debated freely, rather than attempting to cloak the procedure in the mantle of science. And when all of the relevant considerations are taken into account, the procedure's use cannot stand. Whether or not PPG must be discontinued because of the indignity it visits on sex offenders, the procedure should be rejected because of the manner in which it debases the state. Particularly when viewed alongside the many other ways in which the government actively fuels pedophilic desire in the name of preventing the sexual abuse of children, PPG tests indicate that, like the offenders it seeks to treat, the state may at times have its own morbid preoccupation with deviant sexuality. Requiring sex offenders to undergo penile plethysmography casts the government in the role of child pornographer, provocateur, and voyeur. These roles are morally wrong when assumed by ordinary citizens; they do not cease to be so simply because they are assumed by the government and its agents."

J. Odeshoo, Of Penology and Perversity: The Use of Penile Plethysmography on Convicted Child Sex Offenders, 14 Temp.Pol.&Civ.Rts.Rev. 1, 2 (2004).