Reply To: NARSOL’s chairman to give testimony against civil commitment, mandatory minimums

Cathryn Lee Thrasher, Ph.D.

Mandatory minimum sentences take power away from the judge who has access to to the particulars of each case, and gives it to the District Attorneys, whose political reputation is enhanced by higher numbers of stiff sentences. DIstrict Attorneys serve the public fueled by current emotional outcries.

Our culture is currently in a rageful frenzy over the various crimes of sexual abuse and molestation. We want to demonize someone charged with an inappropriate sexual act and ostracize him or her from society. Sexually inappropriate behavior is rampant, with one out of twenty men being a child molester according to Gene Abel, M.D. We scapegoat the few who are caught, believing that there is no treatment to remove their inappropriate urges and that nothing can be done to protect society short of putting them in prison and throwing away the key. And if someone who has not yet been caught wants help, the terrible fear of a lifetime of prison keeps offenders from asking for treatment. Our reporting laws for therapists says that if we hear of child abuse we are required by law to report that to the Department of Families and Children Services (DFCS). So a person who is a perpetrator cannot get treatment. And many of these perpetrators have themselves been abused. Without changing our system, we are perpetuating a vicious cycle of sexual abuse.

PLEASE understand that the public safety is BEST served by appropriate treatment and monitoring of offenders, NOT by extended sentences.