Putting Freedom Out of Reach for Sex Offenders

To the Editor:

In regards to the Aug. 16 editorial, “Indefinite Imprisonment, on a Hunch,” I completely agree with your comments that “the indefinite detention of sex offenders reflects the politics of fear” and that “public safety would be better served if resources were directed toward community supervision.”

It is important, however, to point out that sexual predators, particularly those who are violent and molest children, are highly adept liars. The statistic you cite, that sexual offenders have lower recidivism rates than those who commit other crimes, may be unreliable for several reasons, including the reluctance to report sex crimes and variations in calculating rates of recidivism.

There are many more offenders who are never reported to the authorities and still more who, because of their skills of prevarication, manage to gain the support of well-intentioned community members who believe their lies and help them to evade conviction.

To protect the community from such vicious antisocial offenders, we must find better systems to encourage victims to report offenders, and we must support victims through a grueling legal process and then properly sentence offenders.


Hewlett, N.Y.

The writer, a psychologist, is the author of “Abuse in the Jewish Community.”