The Thought Police?

So I came across an interesting article in the MJS about Michael Monyelle, a convicted sex offender who recently told his parole he was having deviant thoughts about children, including his sister’s young children. In addition to having consensual sexual contact with two underage girls when he was 19 and 20, Mr. Monyelle also had sexual contact with a 9-year-old boy when he was 16. Because of his past history of sex offenses, as well as his admissions of deviant thoughts, Mr. Monyelle is now facing an indefinite commitment to inpatient treatment as a “sexually violent person” under Wisconsin’s Chapter 980 laws.

I’ve come across some folks in the blogosphere who are concerned about the dangerous precedent being set by locking someone up indefinitely for their thoughts – not their actions. While I agree that it’s a slippery slope when you’re talking about locking someone up for their thoughts, the thing to remember here is that in addition to what Mr. Monyelle was convicted of, he’s admitted to having recent deviant thoughts about young children. Now granted, he hasn’t acted on those thoughts, which is obviously a good thing, but if he’s having those thoughts it’s probably just a matter of time before the opportunity presents itself for him to act on those thoughts. The important thing to remember here is that the common belief is that once a pedophile, always a pedophile. In fact, sex offender treatment isn’t so much about “curing” sex offenders as it’s about risk abatement. Sex offender treatment is all about helping teach sex offenders to recognize their triggers and urges, as well as teaching them coping mechanisms to deal with those urges.

Another important thing to remember is that if a guy like Mr. Monyelle is telling his parole agent he’s having deviant thoughts, that agent is obligated to act on that self-report. The primary duty of probation and parole agents is to protect the community from the folks they supervise, and failure to act on something like Mr. Monyelle’s admission would be a failure on the part of that agent to do his or her job.


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