Before you go any further I warn you that many will say I’m for mollycoddling the worst sort of offenders but before coming to that conclusion, please hear me out!
There is no more revolting crime than the sexual assault of a child. When one of these crimes is reported, we get thoughts about the death sentence.
(I will use the male here because the vast majority of this sort of crime is committed by men.)
What is the first thing we say when we learn of such a crime?
“He’s a sicko!”
And we are absolutely right. Pedophiles are sick. They are sick no less than any others whose mental illness drives them to violence. Having as a society en masse declared this to be the case we then take pedophiles and throw them in jail as ordinary criminals.
We do this overlooking two important facts — he will not be cured in prison and in due course will be released as much as a danger as he ever was and society will rise as one to condemn the releasing of this man into our neighborhoods.
Why, if the man is sick, is he treated as a criminal?
Simple. That’s because anything less is mollycoddling. Or so we say.
Let’s look at what we do with, say, an insane person who commits non sexual but violent crimes — perhaps a brutal murder.
As soon as the defence of insanity or, as we now say, “diminished capacity” is raised that issue is dealt with by the judge. In fact, those matters often don’t get to that stage because Crown counsel and defence counsel can see that this is the case and the man is taken before the judge and dealt with as an insane person.
When he is found to be of “diminished capacity” the judge then finds him not guilty because, in law, and when you think about it in common sense as well, the man was unable to form the necessary guilty intent.
Having been found not guilty is scarcely the end of the matter for the judge then orders that he shall be “detained at the Queen’s pleasure” which means he will be treated and not given freedom until psychiatrists can declare that he is no more likely to offend than any other citizen.
Let’s pause here.
As we now do things, for the most part, we throw the pedophile in jail, then, after the effluxion of time he is released no better than he was before. His parole restrictions will be that he cannot go near schools, etc. which are for the most part, unenforceable. In essence, as any other criminal, he will get parole after the minimum time is spend — to molest again.
What then happens to the man found not guilty by reason of insanity?
He stays in confinement indefinitely.
Who then is mollycoddled?
Surely it must be the man sentenced to five years imprisonment out on parole after 18 months and not the man who may never be released.
I have some experience in these matters for I sat for five years on the Cabinet committee which passed final judgment on cases where releases are recommended.
I and my colleagues, Garde Gardom and the late Allan Williams, all lawyers, were constantly impressed at the thorough psychiatric examinations done and the strict — and strictly enforced — restrictions imposed. If a releasee failed to keep his appointment with the doctor he was back in custody and, remember, there indefinitely all over again.
The chief psychiatrist who dealt with these matters clearly knew that if they made a mistake they would feel responsibility for the consequences. In the perhaps 30 cases we reviewed and released, there wasn’t one act of recidivism.
The stark choice is whether we release sick people, untreated, after some statutory time has passed, or, if released at all, after treatment and cure to the satisfaction of professionals in the field.