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December 11, 2013

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court suggests gender is important consideration for placement on state sex offender registry

This AP article, headlined "Mass. court overturns escort's sex offender label," reports on a very interesting ruling today by the top state court in Massachusetts.  Here are the basics:

The state’s highest court on Wednesday overturned the classification of a former escort service manager as a low-level sex offender, finding that the state’s Sex Offender Registry Board should have considered research showing women are less likely than men to commit new sex offenses.

The woman, who wasn’t identified in the court’s ruling, pleaded guilty in 2006 to federal charges stemming from her management of an escort service from 2000 to 2002, including one count of transporting a minor to engage in prostitution and one count of sex trafficking of children. She served 17 months in prison while awaiting trial before pleading guilty.

In 2008, the woman requested funds to hire an expert witness, arguing that the board’s guidelines didn’t encompass scientific research on female sex offenders. Her request was rejected by the board. A hearing officer eventually found that she should be classified as a level one sex offender, the lowest level of offender, considered the least likely to reoffend and the least dangerous....

In its ruling Wednesday, the SJC agreed with the woman that the hearing examiner abused his discretion by denying her request for funds for an expert witness who could testify on the subject of how infrequently female sex offenders commit new crimes when compared with men. "We conclude that it was arbitrary and capricious for (the board) to classify Doe’s risk of re-offense and degree of dangerousness without considering the substantial evidence presented at the hearing concerning the effect of gender on recidivism," Justice Barbara Lenk wrote for the court....

The court also said the board is required to ensure that its guidelines are based on "the available literature."

"We do not purport to suggest a frequency with which the guidelines must be updated, but caution that guidelines that fail to heed growing scientific consensus in an area may undercut the individualized nature of the hearing to which a sex offender is entitled, an important due process right," Lenk wrote.

I was able to access the full text of the opinion in Doe v. Sex Offender Registry Board, No. SJC-11328 (Mass. Dec. 11, 2013), at this link.

December 11, 2013 at 05:54 PM | Permalink

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Comments

I would not characterize pimps and madames as low level offenders. They are the worst of the worst, especially when the induce minors into prostitution. I think the relevant comparison on recidivism rates is not men to women but pimps to madames. Is there any data on recidivism rates with pimps and madames.

Posted by: Jardinero1 | Dec 11, 2013 6:21:19 PM

Here it is, naked feminist bias.

Feminist Justice, a female, privileges a female who orchestrated the sexual intercourse with a minor.

View a couple of images from India of 1928, get extended jail time and classified as a super child predator.

Any data refer to fractions of groups. The applicable statistics are called parametric statistics, being based on the math describing the bell shaped curve.

The statistics that apply to individual cases is the binomial statistic. This is learned Day 1 of high school 11th grade statistics, when discussing coin tosses. One may not apply parametric statistics to data described by binomial distribution.

Lawyer math stops at the Fourth Grade level, that required to count money.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 11, 2013 7:32:37 PM

When women give over some sex for some money it should not be a crime. Marriage is a similar trade off. She should walk free and all charges be dropped. What a waste of time and taxpayer money. She spent 17 months in jail awaiting trial? What a travesty. In a hundred years they will be laughing at our Puritan mentality.

Posted by: Liberty1st | Dec 11, 2013 10:35:49 PM

Liberty1st. I don't disagree with you about the sex trade, but she crossed a line she should not have crossed when she took advantage of minors.

Posted by: Jardinero1 | Dec 11, 2013 11:19:17 PM

I grew up in a liberal household. My parents were both active in Democratic party politics. I have been an active Democrat all my life. And I want to to say that the Northeast "liberal" establishment has officially lost its marbles.

The essence, the core of every civil right law this country has ever seen has been predicated on one simple idea: that the characteristics of a class cannot be imputed to the individual. That in America we believe in individual opportunity and individual rights and individual determination. That it is wrong to legally consider a person's race or their national origin because it tells us nothing about who that person is as an individual.

So it is completely irrelevant as to whether women reoffend less then men because even if it is true it tell us nothing about this woman. Whatever the characteristics of female sex offenders they cannot be imputed to this sex offender.

This ruling is based upon the exact same logic that was justified in the pre-Civil War South to defend slavery viz. that since blacks as a race were subhuman every individual in that race must be subhuman. This ruling is an official instantiation of evil. Every decent person should repudiate this ruling in the fiercest possible terms.

Posted by: Daniel | Dec 11, 2013 11:54:53 PM

This case will have major implications across the country with regard to recidivism. To wit: there is NO difference between male and female recidivism, which vary between 1.9% in California to 3.5% nationwide (NOTE: rate is for conviction, not for arrest). It IS true that women represent a tiny minority, but the recidivism rate is the same.

Frankly, I'd love to see the case in its entirety, including arguments and opinion, to see how they came out with that cockamamie. I've been following and involved in sex offender issues since 1995, and this is the first time that there has been a decision based on bias that simply defies all conventional logic.

Posted by: Eric Knight | Dec 11, 2013 11:58:09 PM

Nathan Zakheim- criminal, cultist, violent extremist, supporter of child molestation

A man by the calling of Nathan Zakheim, who resides in Los Angeles, California, and works as an art collector, has a very sordid dark history involved in numerous cult activities. He has also engaged in crime in this regard, as well as violence and extremism.

He also openly supports a group of child molesting criminals called The Hare Krishna Cult.

He apparently runs his art collection/restoration business with his wife and two children.

Business Address:
P.O. Box 11929
960 N La Brea Avenue
Marina Del Rey, California 90295

His email: zakheim@earthlink.net
His Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/naara.vishwakarma
His LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/pub/nathan-zakheim/26/965/235

His wife Rupa Manjari Zakheim's email: roupamanjaridevidasi@gmail.com
Her Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RoupaManjaridevidasi
Her LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/pub/rupa-manjari-devi-dasi/26/964/57a
Her Freelancer profile: http://www.freelancer.com.jm/u/RupaZakheim.html

His son Kuva Zakheim's Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kuva108
His daughter Shakuntala's Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shakuntala.zakheim.7

This message is a warning to all present or future business associates/partners of Nathan Zakheim. I want you to be aware of his sordid past history and what a sick and dangerous individual this man is.

Posted by: Anonymous | Dec 12, 2013 12:50:42 AM

Daniel:

"The essence, the core of every civil right law this country has ever seen has been predicated on one simple idea: that the characteristics of a class cannot be imputed to the individual. That in America we believe in individual opportunity and individual rights and individual determination. That it is wrong to legally consider a person's race or their national origin because it tells us nothing about who that person is as an individual.

So it is completely irrelevant as to whether women reoffend less then men because even if it is true it tell us nothing about this woman. Whatever the characteristics of female sex offenders they cannot be imputed to this sex offender."

You do realize that the above is also true for most men and that every "sex-offender" is not John Cooey or Phillip Garrido.

I agree that all SO Laws as they are currently constructed, by a legislature without individual considerations, assigns the same dangerousness to all SO's and are the very antithesis of civil and human rights, along with breaking several long held tenets in the Bill of Rights.

That the further "restrictions" are non-punitive is a lie in the face of the obvious, but our Supreme Court will continue to go through truly remarkable and devious mental gymnastics to continue the current stupid status qo.

They continue to try to polish a turd!

Posted by: albeed | Dec 12, 2013 8:00:28 AM

Eric:

That was my first thought as well -- there's no major difference between reoffense rates between men and women sex offenders. Recidivism rates are very low across the board. I'd also be most interested in reading the opinion in full, because I'm left scratching my head as to the rationale behind it.

Posted by: Guy | Dec 12, 2013 8:55:58 AM

If the recidivism rate for women can be considered in such determinations, can then the religion, national origin or race be considered? While I do not endorse such a consideration, what if there "was a growing scientific consensus" that blacks had a much higher rate of re-offense for armed robbery when the commitment offense was armed robbery, could a parole board consider that in denying release or special parole conditions not applied to other groups? I think not, which begs the question of why the court would direct an executive agency to potentially violate the equal protection clause. Was there even a discussion of that issue (the link did not work for me)?

Posted by: David | Dec 12, 2013 9:47:56 AM

"Mass. court overturns escort's sex offender label,"
“Marriage is a similar trade off. She should walk free and all charges be dropped.”
“Liberty1st. I don't disagree with you about the sex trade,”

Daniel,
Such as above is why I left the “left”.

Posted by: Adamakis | Dec 12, 2013 1:23:39 PM

I was a coal minor's son. A lot of hookers took care of minors. It should not be a crime.

Posted by: Liberty1st | Dec 12, 2013 1:31:50 PM

As a former Massachusetts resident, I share most of that state's generally progressive philosophy.

That is why I'm disappointed in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's suggestion to use the gender of the offender as a criterion instead of the INDIVIDUAL offender's crime as determining punishment or registration status. If we let a woman who molests little children off the hook just because she's female while forcing a man whose only offense is urinating in publice to submit to high-level offender registration, then that is an outrage!

What next? Shall we treat all Afro-American sex offenders more harshly than all Euro-American sex offenders beccause one race is allegedly less likely to reoffend than another race?

This decision goes against everything that Massachusetts once stood for!

Does Massachusetts have an instrument to recall such justices?

Posted by: william r. delzell | Dec 12, 2013 4:14:13 PM

It's worth keeping in mind that not all liberals would endorse an opinion like this. Certainly, Justice Ginsberg, historically, would have objected strongly to this distinction in classification. I can't recall if she was an attorney in the case, but it reminds me quite a lot of Craig v. Boren. This is exactly the kind of impermissible classification based on gender stereotypes that the Equal Protection clause pushes against.

Although I suspect the Massachusetts court has some ambivalence with an inflexible and overly harsh sex offender registration system, which is the true motivation in this case. Doesn't change its erroneous, unjustifiable opinion, though.

Posted by: Erik M | Dec 12, 2013 4:26:53 PM

True, but only liberals have.

Posted by: Adamakis | Dec 12, 2013 10:32:09 PM

Well, I'm sure the gender stereotypes expressed in the opinion have not been expressed only by liberals. It's just that liberals might be more uncomfortable with sex offender registries in general (in their current form) and might be more motivated to question the scheme (while a "law and order" conservative would take a "hang them all approach" and not care whether or not men are more likely to reoffend simply because the person committed the offense in the first place, after all).

While I have no doubt that the Justices on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court are liberals, they make up a very, very small portion of liberals overall. It might be more fair to see if anyone else takes them up on following this logic before we paint such a broad brush.

On a side note, I wonder if the Commonwealth of Massachusetts could appeal to the US Supreme Court on the grounds that the decision creates and Equal Protection problem that wasn't there before. It's hard to see how a record could be developed that would help the Supreme Court, though, since it's not like an Equal Protection dispute was litigate from the start. In that sense, a separate proceeding in Federal Court would be more appropriate. Then again, I'm not sure who could bring it. Male sex offenders objecting to the unequal treatment could, I suppose, but that would force a court to invalidate the whole sex offender registry scheme rather than reimpose equal burden on both.

Posted by: Erik M | Dec 13, 2013 9:04:59 AM

Doug,

Please remove the comment by Anonymous | Dec 12, 2013 12:50:42 AM. This blog is not a court of law, nor are we judge or jury.

Posted by: Book38 | Dec 13, 2013 9:51:12 PM

This is an odd decision especially coming from a liberal court and state, of course if it came from a conservative court it would still be odd, its as odd as a gay marriage argument, men and woman are different, are that woman shouldn't serve in the military because they are too weak or feeble or police officers. Can a woman be an effective police officer or join the military(this isn't a debate about certain combat positions in the military regarding strength and body composition lifting objects).

The court's ruling as radical, suggesting that females cannot commit certain crimes are be deposed to commit new crimes, I wonder why feminists don't decry it, or rather anybody for more equality won't decry it. It's not just about the case, its about the court's using gender as a qualification, should women police officers be paid less because they are less likely to use the gun when needed, which isn't true as some argue that a man would be willing to engage and fight, rather than take the safe router and pull the trigger.

Posted by: Kris | Jan 17, 2014 6:10:12 AM

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