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On 17 May 2005, the British newspaper Telegraph published an article titled, "Lie-Detector Tests for Sex Offenders" announcing plans by the UK Government to implement compulsory polygraph screening for sex offenders who have been released from jail on licence. In response to this article, on 21 May 2005 Dr. Drew C. Richardson sent the Telegraph a letter that was ultimately not published. In view of the importance of this topic, Dr. Richardson's letter is reproduced here.

To whom it may concern:

My name is Dr. Drew C. Richardson. I am a United States citizen, and both a former Special Agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and scientist in its Laboratory Division. In the latter capacity, amongst other things, I was responsible for conducting polygraph research for the FBI. I, furthermore, am a graduate of the United States' federal polygraph school, the Department of Defense Polygraph Institute. As a result of that and related experiences, I have become a well known critic of control question test (CQT) polygraphy (a polygraph questioning format) and in particular any of the various applications known as polygraph screening.

I am writing to comment on your May 17, 2005 article entitled "Lie-detector tests for sex offenders." Specifically, I am writing to express the view that this sort of testing has absolutely no validity as a diagnostic test. In fact no form of polygraph screening whether it is for screening job applicants, current employees, or convicted sexual offenders has any validity whatsoever. Although there is a "gut" reaction with the latter group of exams to protect society from an evil and a menace (sex crimes and sexual predators), using meaningless testing will serve only to give a false sense of confidence in a portion of those examinations in which a convicted offender passes a "test" and will undoubtedly falsely accuse some convicted offenders of some prohibited behavior following his or her conviction.

Largely, by playing on the emotions of one group of true victims (the original victims of the sex offense, their families and friends, and society at large), the government through this form of testing will create other groups of victims (those who will be sexually victimized in the future by those who have passed polygraph exams and those convicted offenders who will be falsely accused of non-existent crimes and inappropriate behaviors in the future). I have testified before the United States Senate regarding the subject of polygraph screening. My opening statement can be found at the following web address: I would hope that this viewpoint might be shared with your readers and others who will be affected by the very poor decision(s) your original article discusses.

Sincerest Regards,

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