“Lie Detector Tests Now Part of Sex Offenders’ Conditional Parole”

Muskegon [Michigan] Chronicle staff writer John S. Hausman reports on post-conviction sex offender polygraph “testing” in Michigan. Excerpt:

In a program launched last March in Muskegon, also under way in Flint and Detroit, the Michigan Department of Corrections is requiring paroled sex offenders to submit to periodic polygraph tests as a condition of their freedom. Refusal to take the test constitutes a parole violation, which can lead to a return to prison.

By late December, 29 of the tests had been given in Muskegon, said Tom Combs, the corrections department official in charge of the program statewide. Three or four are done in a typical month, at the parole office in the former Muskegon Corrections Center building off Barney Avenue.

Polygraph tests are not infallible. That’s why the results of such tests are not admissible in court. Similarly, parolees can’t be “violated” simply because the test indicates they’re being deceptive, corrections officials say.

But officials say test answers sometimes can open avenues for further investigation, which can lead to reincarceration if parole violations are uncovered.

A typical parolee’s test takes about two hours, polygraphers said.

Each offender in the program is required to take at least three polygraph tests: first at the start of parole, then about seven months later, and finally a short time before discharge from parole.

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