We Need to Fix This

Ugh. There's so much wrong with this story, I hardly know where to begin. I guess I'll just begin with the way it's reported, the biggest problem with which is the headline: "Mentally disabled man gets probation for assaults." Pretty innocuous headline for a story that's reporting a man who confessed to sexually assaulting three young girls has been given probation at a judge's discretion, though the crimes to which he pleaded guilty (which were reduced after his plea) carry a mandatory prison term of 6 to 30 years.

But Judge Kathryn Creswell of DuPage County in Illinois decided that for 23-year-old Matthew Lucas, "Four years of probation, with treatment, is more appropriate than prison."

Now I'm not sure why the fuck it's an either-or proposition—although it reminds me of this story from last year in which a repeat rapist was sentenced to a mere 60 days in jail and compulsory treatment for sex offenders, because the judge didn't believe that punishment alone works and the system didn't provide for in-prison treatment. This appears to be a similar situation, given that Judge Creswell noted: "Prison would protect the public 100 percent, but he would get no treatment."

As part of his sentencing, Lucas will receive constant psychiatric counseling and monitoring. He has to appear before Creswell every two months and allow authorities to review all of his future mental health records.

Defense attorney Michael Norris presented evidence last week from Lucas's psychologist that the defendant, who works as a bagger at a local grocery, has the intelligence of an 8-to 10-year-old, approaching retardation, and is bipolar with psychotic tendencies.

"I acknowledge . . . that the defendant has led a difficult life," said Assistant State's Atty. Alex McGimpsey. "But we still have to protect the children. He has an impulsive desire to do these things he knows are wrong and he admits attraction to young female children."

McGimpsey said he was bothered by the fact that after Bloomingdale police begun investigating two of the incidents and interviewed Lucas, he committed a third offense.
I'm bothered by that, too—because it's clearly a compulsive disorder, from which psychiatric counseling and monitoring will likely do little to dissuade him. I'm wondering on what, precisely, Judge Croswell based her opinion that four years of probation with counseling is more appropriate than prison.

I don't really have a conclusion here, other than to wonder why on Planet Earth we are still forcing judges into an either-or scenario re: treatment/prison when it comes to sex offenders. In the best case scenario, a repeat offender (especially an admittedly compulsive one) would be incarcerated away from the prison's general population with intensive therapy. This either-or horseshit is worthless.

And, to be frank, I'm getting pretty tired of seeing judges err on the side of what's most "appropriate" for the offender (as here, too). Seems to me, in an imperfect world, it ought to be a sex offender's victims and potential victims who get the best end of the bargain, not the sex offender.

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