A filthy secret about child pornography cases: plethysmography. In this test, sensors are attached to a man's penis to detect arousal while he is shown child pornography images. Though the word is spelled with enough letters to make it sound all science-y, this is a barbaric practice similar to phrenology.
A person prosecuted for owning child porn images is shown child porn images by someone paid to maintain a collection of child porn images. That's twisted.
The good news is that not all jurisdictions use this test and now we have even more good news:
Yesterday, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which oversees New York, Vermont, and Connecticut, determined that using an erection-measuring device as part of probation for one sex offender was an “extraordinarily invasive” and a violation of due process. ...
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals saw some problems with the claims of plethysmography's effectiveness. The judges wrote, “We find it odd that, to deter a person from committing sexual crimes, the Government would use a procedure designed to arouse and excite a person with depictions of sexual conduct closely related to the sexual crime of conviction.”Commenter tarran at the Reason link sums it up well:
The idea was you show people stuff, and if they start to get hard, you know they really like it.
So, if you show a guy a picture of an eight year old girl and the blood starts flowing to his nethers you know that eight year olds arouse him.
It doesn't tell you how likely he is going to *act* on the arousal. But if he is aroused by eight year olds, then he is a devil incarnate and can be locked up safely forever.
I work with some very pretty 25 year-old women... if you ran me through the machine while showing pictures of them cavorting in swimwear, you *would* get a response. Somehow I've managed to avoid raping any of them... as has every other male in my company. That tells you everything you need to know about the usefulness of the machine.This case is another tug in the effort to drag accepted thinking about sex crimes into the twenty-first century. Or the twentieth.