Appellate Court overturns sex offender treatment as condition of probation

[Update: Since I seem to be getting a fair number of hits to this page, I think it's important to point out that this decision is almost 5 years old and was subsequently appealed to the State Supreme Court by the prosecution. The State Supreme Court not only dismissed the state's appeal as moot, but also then vacated the decision of the Appellate Court, in effect, leaving it without any legal value. The issue itself seems to be undecided in Connecticut and ripe for relitigation.]

Last week, the Appellate Court overturned the trial court’s order modifying the conditions of probation in State v. Boyle [pdf]. Mr. Boyle was convicted of DUI and sentenced to 6 months, executions suspended after 30 days and 18 months probation. While on probation, his probation officer moved the trial court to modify the conditions of his probation. Via the modification, the officer wanted to add sex offender treatment and evaluation as a condition of probation.

Specifically, the probation officer assigned to the case requested that the defendant be required to review, sign and abide by all sexual offender conditions of probation to include sexual offender evaluation and any recommended treatment, polygraph examinations and Abel screens, which are specialized tests to determine a person’s sexual interest in children, as deemed necessary by the office of adult probation.

The request was based on the probation officer’s discovery that the defendant had a 1997 conviction of sexual assault in the fourth degree stemming from an incident that occurred in 1995, that the defendant was listed on the state’s sex offender registry and that a parole board evaluation conducted in 2001 rated the defendant’s recidivism-sexual offense relapse risk as high and his dangerousness-severity of risk as severe.

During the hearing on the Motion, there was no reference to any act of the defendant leading to the DUI or any subsequent act.

The probation officer testified, however, that because the use of alcohol was a factor in the defendant’s past crimes, he believed it was necessary to make the recommendation in case the defendant started drinking again.

In response to the court’s inquiry as to how the condition of sexual offender evaluation was reasonably related to the defendant’s current rehabilitation, the probation officer stated that he did not believe that it was ‘‘so much related to his rehabilitation as much as it [was] to his supervision and the safety to the community as a probation department.”

The Court granted the Motion and the defendant appealed. On appeal, the Appellate Court held that

‘‘[I]n determining whether a condition of probation [is proper] a reviewing court should evaluate the condition imposed under our Adult Probation Act in the following context:

The conditions must be reasonably related to the purposes of the [Probation] Act. Consideration of three factors is required to determine whether a reasonable relationship exists: (1) the purposes sought to be served by probation; (2) the extent to which constitutional rights enjoyed by law-abiding citizens should be accorded to probationers; and (3) the legitimate needs of law enforcement.”

The Court concluded:

Because the defendant’s sexual conduct was not a common thread in the defendant’s criminal history and was wholly unrelated to the defendant’s present conviction, however, there is no logical nexus between the added condition of probation and the underlying offense of which he was convicted.

Obviously, since this was a criminal case which was decided in favor of the defendant, there was a dissent [pdf].

4 thoughts on “Appellate Court overturns sex offender treatment as condition of probation

  1. Mark from Jersey

    Actually, in Connecticut sex offender treatment works pretty well. I want to show my appreciation to Northeast Clinical, in Plainfield, Conn., where the State contracts this clinic for young adult sex treatment, with most of the clients being 18-25 and stand convicted of “statutory rape” type cases, where the victim was under the age of consent, lied about her age, and the offender was a young man that was later convicted of a Romeo-Juliet type offense.

    I had a chance to visit the clinic, and I was impressed. Being age-appropriate, there were no older clients, those with child-molestation type offenses. The program has a high rate of success. Work is centered around not re-offending (i.e check your girlfriend’s age), complying with probation, and sex education (use of protection, STD’s, and awareness of different sex crimes).

    The clinicians there are doing a great job, whereas other treatment providers in the state lump ALL sex offenders together (there are different re-offense levels, as we have here in New Jersey. I am glad Connecticut will soon follow that lead.)

    Therefore I must disagree what you said, Perv Patrol, as in my opinion you seem misguided and misinformed, and show your lack of knowledge and show your ignorance.

    Mark in Jersey

    Reply
  2. Dan Murray

    Dr. Gene G. Abel (The DIana Screen, Abel Assessment for Sexual Interest) believes child molesters can be successfully treated. “I’ve worked with child molesters since 1969,” he states. “I’ve seen about 8,000 child molesters. We can’t do long-term studies such as those that follow people for 20 years but we generally do follow-ups of about six years. Relapse into child molesting is about 4% for the follow-ups I’ve done on child molesters who have been in treatment.”

    The Behavioral Medicine Institute of Atlanta considers the cognitive-behavioral approach the most appropriate treatment for this group. “When you look at the world literature in studies of which treatments have been effective for child molesters, that’s the only one that stands up over time,” he explains.

    Does Dr. Abel believe that there are people who are strongly attracted to children but do not actually molest them? “I attempted to answer that question when I had a grant for a study about 15 years ago,” he says. “We evaluated 561 people in that project who said they were child molesters. We also talked to a group that said they were sexually attracted to children but had not molested them.” Unfortunately, interviews with the latter group disclosed that they were rationalizing their conduct. “When we actually talked to them they said they had only touched but not penetrated or that they had penetrated but not used force,” Dr. Abel recalls. “The ones we talked to had all molested even though they first claimed they had not.”

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