Sex Offense: An Unpayable Debt?

“No matter how much time you’ve spent in prison, you haven’t exactly paid your debt to society.”

This was recently told to a group of registrants by a counselor in a sex offender therapy group.

So, are sex offenses an unpayable debt?

Does time in prison, payment of financial restitution, loss of family, friends, jobs, housing and everything else you ever had mean nothing in the eyes of society when it comes to sex offenses?


Is this one particular counselor’s “subjective” take on sex offenses?

I’m going with the latter.

I have issues with a counselor that seems to take the law into his own hands.  Perhaps in his eyes a registrant’s debt is never paid, but then perhaps he shouldn’t be providing therapy if he can’t keep his own personal feelings about sex offenses out of the mix.  Therapy is supposed to be safe and supportive, not negative and shaming.

Registrants have already been before judge and jury.  They have already served the sentence determined by the courts. They’ve paid for their crime.

They don’t “owe” a debt to society.

What sick and twisted form of treatment is it when a counselor advises a group of registrants whose offenses vary from non-contact to violent that despite having been in prison, despite being in treatment, no matter what they do, no matter what ends of the earth they go to to redeem themselves, that it might never be enough, that their “debt to society” might never be paid?.

This counselor had a few other ideas for ways the group’s participants could “pay back their debt”.

He suggested to the group that one way to “pay back society” might be for registrants to participate in studies and “experiments”. Now, what this counselor meant by “studies and experiments” is unclear. Perhaps he was suggesting medication/drug studies like chemical castration or becoming subjects for case studies of sex offenders. Experiments, I don’t even want to contemplate what was meant by that. Since he didn’t go into detail in the group, there’s no way of knowing exactly “what” was meant.

What is clear, is that he probably shouldn’t have been suggesting any of this at all !

Registrants don’t owe a debt to society, nor are they guinea pigs for studies and experiments.  

Registrants committed an offense, like the hundreds of other offenses that go before the courts. They are judged, sentenced and they go to prison and pay fines just like those who commit other offenses.

Does anyone convicted of any other crime owe an unpayable debt to society or is this ideology reserved only for registrants?

I have a feeling that all of those recently accused in Hollywood and Washington don’t feel like they owe a debt to society.  In fact, it’s totally in the realm of possibility that in 6 months to a year they’ll be back on TV or walking the halls of justice as if nothing happened. Where’s their debt?

One positive thing that the counselor suggested was that perhaps some registrants might want to meet with members of the state’s sex offender treatment board to let them know how the registry negatively impacts their lives. That does sound like a good thing, let the powers that be know exactly how the registry ruins lives. However, the counselor was quick to mention that others had tried this in the past, but that no changes were made to the registry due to their interactions.

So much for “hope and optimism” in therapy.!

Am I venting too much about post incarceration sex offender treatment?  I hope so !!!. The more I hear, the madder I get. Most low level offenders  receive zero or minimal sex offender treatment while they sit in prison for years.  Is it because it’s costly and prisoners have no money? Better to wait until they are out of prison before they’re asked to start paying off their societal debt?

Every week I am more enlightened and more peeved when I hear about $250 polygraphs, plethysmographys and visual scans that can be done randomly, on a counselor’s whim, without the need to show cause. According to government websites, it sounds as though, yes, you do in fact need to” show cause” to request invasive tests like plethysmography. Lawsuits are flying off the shelves in several states when it comes to this kind of costly, invasive and demeaning test being done willy-nilly.  What is the purpose of giving these tests over and over to registrants who have ALREADY previously passed these tests?  Pass the first and second, maybe “the third times the charm”, maybe the registrant will fail that one. Is it to try and trip up registrants, maybe get a false positive or is it just a moneymaker? Who can afford a $250 polygraph “a few times a year”?

This week I learned sex offender treatment “aftercare” continues for 3 YEARS  once you complete your sex offender treatment. (This time period varies from state to state.)  (Apparently in “aftercare” you are no longer required to show up and pay for group therapy, although you are certainly welcome to do so, but you can still randomly be called in for costly, invasive testing, without cause and for which you will still be forced to pay a hefty sum over the course of those 3 years.)

And counselors can’t understand why clients who have completed their sex offender treatment don’t want to come back to groups for aftercare.

Are you kidding me?

Don’t talk to registrants or their families about a debt owed to society.

Registrants owe it to themselves to rebuild their lives, to make something good out of a bad situation. 

What they don’t owe is a “debt to society” that never existed. 


3 thoughts on “Sex Offense: An Unpayable Debt?

  • Dennis Shaffer

    Well written article and I look for you to write more. I will continue sharing them with all the people I can find that will listen. Thank you for sharing.

  • Florida Hobo

    Agreed. With all the USA male’s from presidents on down now publicly accused yet unarrested; it’s concrete evidence to delete this insane Registry idea of anyone. It’s a complete waste.

  • Angela

    We had to move from the house we were buying and we may have to move again.


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