« Should states help death row prisoners donate their organs? | Main | "A father's plea: End the war on drugs" »

September 10, 2012

After high-profile child rapes, Koreans talk of physical castration and harsher sentencing for sex offenders

This news report from Korea, which is headlined "How should Korea combat pedophilia?", provides a useful reminder that America is not exceptional in its intense sentencing policy response to high-profile sex offenses against children.  Here are excerpts:

The kidnap and rape of a 7-year-old girl in Naju, South Jeolla Province, earlier this month has reopened the debate on how to deal with society’s most reviled criminals. Like the case of Cho Doo-soon, who brutally raped an 8-year-old girl in 2008, Ko Jong-seok’s heinous act has sparked a raft of proposals from lawmakers and law enforcement to deal with those who prey on children. In the days after the attack, the National Police Agency announced one month of increased police patrols and a crackdown on child pornography, while a lawmaker from the Saenuri Party, Rep. Park In-sook, proposed a bill that would allow for the physical castration of child rapists.

“How much these children suffer is unbelievably much, much more than the penalty they (the perpetrators) receive from the judge,” Park, a cardiologist by profession, told The Korea Herald on Friday.  Park rejected the suggestion that the procedure would be at odds with the principles of a civilized society, adding that it has few side effects and does not even require a general anesthetic.

“These children live with permanent damage, physically, mentally, and psychologically, neurologically … and economically … So if you compare the human rights of these criminals with the victims, whose human rights are more important? Who should be protected? It is just incomparable,” she said, pointing out that Finland, the Czech Republic and Germany, among other countries, allow the practice.

Park, who has also proposed the introduction of a smartphone application that would alert users to the location of convicted sex offenders within a 1 km radius, added that a recent opinion poll showed that 96 percent of Koreans support her castration bill proposal.  “This is the philosophy I had all my life but I had no chance to speak to the public until I came to the National Assembly,” she said.  “Also, the important thing is these crimes are getting worse and becoming more often.”

When it comes to an effective legal response to those who target children, understanding more about the scale and nature of the problem is crucial, said Korean Institute of Criminology research fellow Kim Han-kyun.  “The first step we need to take is to study and research the real reality of pedophiles and sex offenders against children in our society, then we may have specific and substantive measures against pedophiles,” said Kim. “But the problem is no one knows yet how many pedophiles there are in our society and (how) serious the problem of pedophiles is now at the moment in our society.”

While it is unclear how many pedophiles exist in Korea ― U.S. estimates put the figure there at around 4 percent of the population ― recorded sex crimes against the young have risen in recent years.  The number of cases of sexual assault and rape against minors soared from 857 in 2007 to 2,054 last year.  Even more strikingly, the offender in 43 percent of cases from January to June 2011 involving victims under 13 received a suspended sentence.  Where prison sentences have been applied, they have often been seen by the public as excessively lenient. Cho Doo-soon’s attack on the 8-year-old known only as Na-young led to a 12-year prison sentence, a punishment widely denounced as too light for a crime that left a school girl with permanent, life-changing injuries.

“The statutory punishment on sex offenders and sex offenders against children is severe enough but the problem is the sentencing,” said Kim.  “Although South Korean legislators have made very strict and severe punishment, the judges have given soft sentences.  I think the sentencing guidelines for sex offenses against child should be amended for more harsh and strict sanctions on such offenders.”  A conservative, male-dominated judiciary is likely part of the reason for soft sentencing, added Park....

While pedophilia has long been termed a mental disorder, an increasing body of opinion in recent years has defined it as an unalterable sexual orientation, calling into question the effectiveness of treatment. In the U.S., about 50 percent of convicted pedophiles reoffend, though programs to treat the predilection have shown mixed success.

Explanations for the root causes also differ, ranging from childhood abuse to less white matter in the brain. “Pedophilia is related to low self-esteem, poor social skills and impaired self-concept, psychologically,” said Park. “The patients tend to be very shy and passive-aggressive when it comes to personality. Some doctors say this disorder is related to inappropriate attachment with the primary care-giver in childhood. Personally, I reckon poor cognitive inhibition of deviated sexual fantasy is the main cause of actual child sexual molestation.”

September 10, 2012 at 09:20 AM | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451574769e2017744a2a625970d

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference After high-profile child rapes, Koreans talk of physical castration and harsher sentencing for sex offenders:

Comments

\ A conservative, male-dominated judiciary is likely part of the reason for soft sentencing, added Park..../

--=-- Apparently, conservative means something different in S. Korea.

\ Rep. Park In-sook, proposed a bill that would allow for the physical castration of child rapists. /

--=-- Amen.

Posted by: Adamakis | Sep 10, 2012 11:12:44 AM

The problem, of course, is that the I'm sure the Korean legislation, and in line with legislation in this country, treats anyone who offends as being a bonafide pedophile when, as the data suggest, there is more than one road to Rome, as it were. The end result is that everyone gets swept under the rug, and no one is made much safer (though the general public may feel better, and have a false sense of security). Giving politicians the power of prospective psychiatric assessment and permanent "treatment" is never wise, even if politically expedient.

And, by the way... "Park, a cardiologist by profession...Personally, I reckon poor cognitive inhibition of deviated sexual fantasy is the main cause of actual child sexual molestation."

I didn't realize cardiologists specialized in the etiology of child sexual abuse. I guess it makes sense then that they would also specialize in the treatment of pedophilia.

Posted by: Guy | Sep 10, 2012 11:36:11 AM

Thanks Guy.

When I read he was a cardiologist I burst out laughing.

"These children live with permanent damage, physically, mentally, and psychologically, neurologically … and economically …"

Well, since the cardiologist said so it MUST be true. Who can doubt a medical professional.

Posted by: Daniel | Sep 10, 2012 2:05:53 PM

You may agree with more severe punishment but it should not be founded on this meme story that is gentecially populated by more memes. If the damage is so servere and pervasive why is it necessary to exaggerate it or mislead?

Indeed, some memes are mind viruses and can spread around the world.

Posted by: Anon | Sep 10, 2012 4:42:58 PM

What he? this is another hate filled FEMALE psycho like erika!


"“These children live with permanent damage, physically, mentally, and psychologically, neurologically … and economically … So if you compare the human rights of these criminals with the victims, whose human rights are more important? Who should be protected? It is just incomparable,” she said, pointing out that Finland, the Czech Republic and Germany, among other countries, allow the practice."

and

"Park, who has also proposed the introduction of a smartphone application that would alert users to the location of convicted sex offenders within a 1 km radius, added that a recent opinion poll showed that 96 percent of Koreans support her castration bill proposal. “This is the philosophy I had all my life but I had no chance to speak to the public until I came to the National Assembly,” she said. “Also, the important thing is these crimes are getting worse and becoming more often.”

Plus of course the last one is a LIE at least in the US since crime is down BIG time here.

Posted by: rodsmith | Sep 10, 2012 5:38:12 PM

Guy --

"The end result is that everyone gets swept under the rug, and no one is made much safer (though the general public may feel better, and have a false sense of security)."

Please provide any documentation you may have that supports the proposition that the general public feels any sort of sense of security, false or otherwise, from child molesters depending on the degree of punishment the law makes available.

P.S. Impression and anecdotes are not documentation.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Sep 10, 2012 6:20:43 PM

Bill:

Simple common sense. Registries are popular because they provide parents with a false sense of security and control regaring the welfare of their children in an otherwise chaotic world. It gives people the impression that the bad guys are out there, that they can look them up and know where they are and what they're doing, thereby giving them the impression that they are protecting their children. Given that the vast majority of people on the registry are not pedophiles and never reoffend, and also given that the vast majority of people who abuse children are not strangers but known to the child (and the vast majority of those people are actually family members) -- the whole registry / treat-everyone-as-an-incorrigible pedophile does a few things, all of which are counter productive.

As far as documentation -- read any news article where they talk to the man on the street about registries. You'll read all kinds of quotes about how these people are dangerous, that the public has a right to know, etc. I'm sure you could even find one where someone says that it makes them feel safer.

Is it your assertion that people do not feel safer, irrespective of whether the laws make them more or less safe? I'm all ears.

Posted by: Guy | Sep 10, 2012 10:23:44 PM

Guy --

I asked for documentation for the very broad claim that the "general public" has a "false sense of security" because registries enable citizens to get information about sex offenders.

Your answer to the request for documentation is, "Simple common sense."

Oh, OK. Will that same answer suffice from me when I'm asked to provide documentation for some proposition?

A while back, I said that returning soldiers prefer to be treated like warriors rather than like babies and invalids. Your response was that I couldn't know that unless I had talked to thousands or tens of thousands of them. Yet you now claim to know, merely through "common sense," that the "general public" -- a group massively larger than the set of returning service men and women -- feels a sense of comfort by virtue of sex registries.

Sure.

If and when you become a parent, you'll find out what parents know, to wit, that it's up to you, and not the government or any government list, to safeguard your children, and to do so by being vigilant about who they're spending their time with and paying attention to what they say. I know lots and lots of parents, and I've never met one who has a false sense of security, or ANY sense of security, because of the existence of the registries.

Nor should they. With valued defense bar clients like Jerry Sandusky out there, why on earth would they?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Sep 10, 2012 11:18:47 PM

Bill Otis, are you disabled? Here is some help. Copy and Google this if you really care.

"sex offender" "false sense of security" study

That wasn't so hard was it?

Posted by: Anon2 | Sep 11, 2012 1:29:01 PM

Anon2 --

I teach law at Georgetown. And you?

When I want your "help," I'll be sure to ask. Until then, I'll let Guy answer the question directed to him, if he can.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Sep 11, 2012 4:28:53 PM

Bill:

Well, I did say go ahead and read any newspaper article, but I'll even go one step further for you. Here is a link pointing you to a variety of resources. Oh forgive me, I couldn't resist.

Your response was that I couldn't know that unless I had talked to thousands or tens of thousands of them. Yet you now claim to know, merely through "common sense," that the "general public" -- a group massively larger than the set of returning service men and women -- feels a sense of comfort by virtue of sex registries.

Actually, my response was that your presumption to speak for all vets is appreciated. You said that you weren't and accused me of lying. I said that the relevance and rhetorical impact of your statement was effective insofar as its generalizability. Oh, those were the days.

Like I said, go and read any news article you'd like -- I'm sure you're bound to find statements along the likes of either that people feel safer because of these laws. I've even made it easy for you -- click the link I provided and you'll have a plethora of info at your fingertips.

If and when you become a parent, you'll find out what parents know, to wit, that it's up to you, and not the government or any government list, to safeguard your children, and to do so by being vigilant about who they're spending their time with and paying attention to what they say. I know lots and lots of parents, and I've never met one who has a false sense of security, or ANY sense of security, because of the existence of the registries.

I agree with you -- it is up to parents to protect their children. But here we're starting to fall into that same logical fallacy that we did with the soldiers.

But I am most curious if you'll answer my question -- is it your assertion that sex offender laws, registries, etc, do not make people feel any safer (setting aside for the moment the question of whether that is a false sense of security or not)?

Posted by: Guy | Sep 11, 2012 4:40:57 PM

Guy --

"Actually, my response was that your presumption to speak for all vets is appreciated."

But I made no such presumption, and indeed explicitly disclaimed it by saying that my view stemmed from the vets THAT I KNOW.

"You said that you weren't and accused me of lying."

That's because you were lying. And I see that you keep right on keepin' on today, when you supposedly quote Adamakis as making a nasty remark about Mexicans that he never made. But you used quotation marks anyway. Do you really not know that's dishonest?

"I said that the relevance and rhetorical impact of your statement was effective insofar as its generalizability."

Right, you tried to wriggle out by changing the question. Is that supposed to be to your credit?

"But I am most curious if you'll answer my question -- is it your assertion that sex offender laws, registries, etc, do not make people feel any safer (setting aside for the moment the question of whether that is a false sense of security or not)?"

Thanks for finally specifying the question. I had no idea what you were talking about.

My answer is that I don't know, anymore than you do or some reporter does, whether these registries make X percentage of the people feel safer, or what percentage it is. They might make some people (1%, 10%, 40%, I have no idea) feel safer. If so, those people would be best advised to understand that how they FEEL is not the point. The point is whether your kids actually ARE safer, and as to that, the primary determinant is, as you apparently agree, the amount of parental involvement and vigilance. Every now and again, however, it will also be when people -- the ones who serve on juries -- can see through the defense razzle-dazzle put on for some heroic figure like Jerry Sandusky who was persecuted by those as-ever over zealous prosecutors.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Sep 11, 2012 8:46:25 PM

Bill:

I see that you're still not done arguing points from several threads ago. I stated that your vets comment was only relevant to the extent that it could be generalized to service men and women that you have not spoken with. Indeed, that was the insinuation in the statement, which I merely pointed out. Your accusation of me lying, as opposed to being mistaken, is uncharitable and uncivil. But oh wells.

That's because you were lying. And I see that you keep right on keepin' on today, when you supposedly quote Adamakis as making a nasty remark about Mexicans that he never made. But you used quotation marks anyway. Do you really not know that's dishonest?

It's called satire. Now Bill, I know you're a smart guy -- do you think I was intentionally misquoting Adamakis, or that I was engaging in the time-honored practice of satire? Also, am I to take this that you agree that Mexicans just need more God in their lives (of course, despite Catholicism being the reigning champion of religion in Mexico)?

Right, you tried to wriggle out by changing the question. Is that supposed to be to your credit?

Just making an observation, Bill.

Thanks for finally specifying the question. I had no idea what you were talking about.

Did you? Then you're not reading my posts again. This was the very last sentence in my first post to you:

Is it your assertion that people do not feel safer, irrespective of whether the laws make them more or less safe? I'm all ears.

Now Bill, before you trip over yourself to accuse me of lying, you can scroll up the page a little bit and check for yourself.

My answer is that I don't know, anymore than you do or some reporter does, whether these registries make X percentage of the people feel safer, or what percentage it is. They might make some people (1%, 10%, 40%, I have no idea) feel safer. If so, those people would be best advised to understand that how they FEEL is not the point. The point is whether your kids actually ARE safer, and as to that, the primary determinant is, as you apparently agree, the amount of parental involvement and vigilance. Every now and again, however, it will also be when people -- the ones who serve on juries -- can see through the defense razzle-dazzle put on for some heroic figure like Jerry Sandusky who was persecuted by those as-ever over zealous prosecutors.

So...I take it your answer is that you don't know? Alright. All I'm doing is taking people at their word, Bill. If someone says that they feel safer because of X, all I can do is assume that's true.

And, it wasn't the question that I asked, but I agree, Bill, the point is whether kids are actually made safer by these laws -- hence the whole bit about false sense of security.

As for you trotting out Jerry Sandusky again...setting aside for the moment that any discussion about him is a red-herring, wholly irrelevant to anything we were discussing (using the term loosely), who has claimed that Jerry Sandusky is a heroic figure persecuted by overzealous prosecutors? Given how charitable you are with me, does that mean if you can't provide me with a word for word quote of someone saying exactly that, that I can set about calling you a liar? Awesome.

Posted by: Guy | Sep 12, 2012 1:57:25 PM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB