Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Child Sex Offenders

Some Viable Alternatives

Larry Don McQuay
Larry Don McQuay

Yet with some 550,000 registered sexual offenders in America today, fulltime monitoring is financially unfeasible. According to missingkids.com, a number of sex offenders fail to comply with their required registration duties, but they "remain undetected due to law enforcement's inability to track their whereabouts." This Web site states that an estimated 100,000 offenders nationwide are currently "lost" to the system. The wide disparity among the state programs in both registration and notification procedures permits sex offenders to 'forum-shop,' or research which states have the least stringent laws, in order to live in communities with relative anonymity." In 2003, a study by Parents for Megan's Laws indicated from data from 32 states that officials had lost track of approximately one out of four convicted offenders who had been released. Since staffing shortages and other priorities will likely continue to plague the enforcement of registry rules, we must devise viable alternatives. Among them are the following:

Leroy Hendricks
Leroy Hendricks

  1. Castration
    Larry Don McQuay, a convicted sex offender in Texas who admitted to molesting some 200 children, pled to be castrated to hinder him from reoffending. Texas instituted a law that allowed this invasive form of control, but stated that it must be voluntary, while other states struck down such laws. Several European countries utilize chemical castration, which involves giving an offender an antiandrogen medication to lower testosterone level, resulting in a reduced impulse toward aggression and lower sex drive. But there's no proof from studies that castration, physical or chemical, actually works.
  2. Sting operations online
    Sex offenders know which Web sites children are likely to frequent, and they may pose as another child to befriend and eventually lure their victim into a face-to-face meeting. But police are savvy about these sites as well, and they, too, pose as children in order to lure the offender in a face-to-face meeting that results in an arrest. But now that such operations have been publicized, offenders have become more cunning and difficult to lure.
  3. Counseling and Therapy
    Many types of treatments have been tried, from psychoanalysis to confrontational to behavior modification. The only form of therapy that works involves a combination of cognitive and behavioral treatment, along with a support system, and we'll go into that in detail below.
  4. Institutionalization for Life
    Leroy Hendricks was in prison in Kansas for molesting children. As the time approached for him to be released, the State of Kansas sought to involuntarily commit him under its Sexually Violent Predator Act, which provided for the institutionalization of people likely to engage in "predatory acts of sexual violence" due to some mental abnormality or personality disorder. He had been diagnosed as still suffering from pedophilia and he agreed that he was. When asked, he responded that, if released, it was likely he would continue to molest children. He thus became a candidate for civil commitment. On appeal, in which Hendricks claimed that a certification of mental illness alone was too arbitrary to support an order of civil commitment, the Kansas Supreme Court invalidated the Act, because it violated double jeopardy requirements. However, in a five to four majority vote, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed this decision, holding that the Act met substantive due process standards because it required considerable evidence of past sexual violence and a present mental inclination to repeat it. They did not view psychiatric institutions as de facto prisons. The Act also required the release of those offenders who show mental stability, so it did not violate double jeopardy standards.
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