California has begun requiring paroled sex offenders to take lie detector tests.
The Associated Press reports that the move is a response to high-profile cases of parolees who have raped or killed.
State parole officials say the testing is designed to determine which offenders are most dangerous and in need of of supervision. The state is also using other tests, known as risk assessments, to gauge how likely a parolee is to re-offend.
Parolees will be required to take the tests as a condition of their parole. The results can’t be used against them in court, but they can be used in investigations of new crimes or parole violations.
All paroled sex offenders will also be required to participate in specially designed treatment programs that were previously reserved for high-risk offenders.
Parole administrator Douglas Eckenrod, who oversaw the training of the 241 state parole agents who supervise sex offenders, said the combination of efforts can help prevent future crimes and get offenders the treatment they need.
Harriet Salarno, founder and chairwoman of Crime Victims United of California, said she welcomed the new practices. But she also predicted that parolees would eventually find a way to beat the lie-detector tests.
American Civil Liberties Union senior staff attorney Michael Risher noted that lie-detector tests are not always reliable. He said the state might be better off limiting their use to offenders who have been shown in their risk assessments to be the most dangerous.
California is not the first state to require such tests. But with about 6,250 sex offenders on parole, it is by far the largest, officials said.
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