“County Uses Lie Detectors to Supervise Sex Offenders”

North County Times staff writer Scott Marshall reports in a lengthy article on the use of polygraph “testing” to supervise sex offenders on probation in San Diego County, California. Be sure to see the full article. Excerpt:

VISTA —- San Diego County probation officers are using lie-detector tests to help them supervise the roughly 600 sex offenders on probation countywide, a probation department official said.

Although state law prohibits the use of polygraph test results in court, probation officers can use the statements sex offenders make during interviews before and after the test is administered.

Those statements can be used to increase the supervision of the offenders, alter the counseling they receive or rearrest them for probation violations, said Susan Storm, a supervising probation officer in San Diego.

“It can help us monitor them when we can’t watch them 24 hours a day,” Storm said. “Bottom line is to provide safer communities.”

However, criminal defense attorneys decry the practice as a violation of the rights of those on probation and a waste of money.

“My argument is it’s a waste of time and money because polygraph results, as a matter of law, are inadmissible in court for any reason because results are unreliable,” said Deputy Public Defender Jack Campbell, who works in the public defender’s North County office in Vista. “Once the defendant knows the result is meaningless, they can lie at will.”

Once a sex offender on probation discovers that polygraphy is a fraud and learns how to beat the polygraph (see Chapters 3 & 4 of The Lie Behind the Lie Detector to find out how), he or she can also lie at will. The use of pseudoscientific polygraph “tests” to supervise sex offenders is bad public policy.

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