Saturday, August 6, 2005

Profiling Sex Offenders

Profiling terrorists or drug runners may not be politically correct, but evidently profiling sex offenders is. Here's an interesting article by Daniel Engber which explains how it's done:

On Wednesday, convicted sex offender Joseph Edward Duncan was charged with kidnapping two small children and murdering their older brother, their mother, and her boyfriend. When he was an inmate in 1999 and 2000, forensic psychologists evaluated Duncan using two different tests; both indicated he was likely to carry out a crime after being released from prison. How do psychologists assess the risk that a sex offender will strike again?

Through a combination of clinical judgment and statistics. A forensic psychologist interviews the convict, speaks with his family, and reviews police reports and prison records. The psychologist combines this research with actuarial assessments designed to predict whether an offender will commit another crime.

These actuarial tools have become common only in the past 10 years; today, most forensic psychologists recognize their value in predicting recidivism. Researchers design the assessments by examining sex offender databases. They look for the variables that best correlate with repeated criminal activity, then whittle these down to the most important factors.

The simplest tool for evaluating sex offenders is the Rapid Risk Assessment for Sex Offense Recidivism. The RRASOR (pronounced "razor") includes just four items. A sex offender gets one point for being under the age of 25 at the time of his release from prison, another if any of his victims were male, and a third if he wasn't related to his victims. He gets up to three more points depending on how many sex crimes he's been charged with.

The most dangerous offenders, then, are young adults who have committed multiple sex crimes against boys they've never met before. According to the RRASOR's table of probabilities, these six-point cases have more than a 73 percent chance of committing another crime within 10 years. (Psychologists did use the RRASOR to assess Duncan, and found he was likely to strike again. He'd have received at least two points: His earlier victim was male and a stranger.)

Viewpoint offers this suggestion: Two to three points should be sufficient warrant to place the villain in jail until age 65; Four to five points should land him in prison for life, and six or more points should win him an appointment with his Maker.

Conservative Writers on ID

With President Bush having given his opinion on the matter of teaching Intelligent Design in public schools there's a lot of buzz about the issue in the print media and blogosphere.

Dan Peterson offers an excellent introduction to ID, explaining in layman's terms what exactly ID theorists believe and why they believe it.

George Neumayr has two good articles on the growing intolerance of Darwinians and the increasing appeal of ID. See here and here.

David Klinghoffer avers that the vitriolic response of Darwinists to the inroads made by ID theorists is all about status.

David Limbaugh agrees with President Bush.

Lots of fascinating reading.

Roberts' Views on Religious Freedom

No Left Turns' Joseph Knippenberg has done some digging on John Roberts' likely position on first amendment cases involving freedom of religion. He says this:

I've written a very long piece examining the publicly available evidence regarding John Roberts's position on the First Amendment religion clauses. Did I mention that it is VERY LONG? Here's the relatively short conclusion:

A careful review of the publicly available evidence suggests that John Roberts has put his name to positions solidly within the mainstream of judicial interpretation of the First Amendment religion clauses. As seems to be the case in many other areas of law, he would be careful to stay within the proper bounds of judicial competence and be respectful of the role and judgments of the political branches. Above all, he would apparently continue and perhaps extend somewhat the Court's tendency to look favorably on attempts to accommodate religious expression, not necessarily as a matter of judicially-enforced constitutional right, but rather as a matter of what might be called legislative grace.

This deference and "judicial restraint" would require a rethinking of the Court's Establishment Clause jurisprudence, continuing the move away from a mechanical application of the Lemon test and perhaps an abandonment of Sandra Day O'Connor's "endorsement" test, in favor of a return to a focus on the traditional elements of establishment ("force and funds").

This would, of course, mark a change in the Court, just as Ruth Bader Ginsburg's replacement of Byron White marked a change in the Court. Our first opportunity to see what sort of change will come in the next term, when the Court hears Ashcroft et al. v. O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao do Vegetal, a case addressing a Religious Freedom Restoration Act-based challenge to the Controlled Substances Act.

Will Roberts take the opportunity-as Sandra Day O'Connor did in her dissent in City of Boerne v. Flores-to call for a reexamination of the Court's holding in Employment Division v. Smith, stare decisis to the contrary notwithstanding? Or will he likely follow Antonin Scalia in deferring to the legislative judgment of "compelling state interest" embodied in the Controlled Substances Act itself? We will see soon enough how he balances his apparent clear concern with religious liberty with his deference to the political branches.

I saw nothing in the seven briefs I read to dampen my enthusiasm for Roberts; if he believes what he wrote, he'll generally vote with Scalia, Thomas, and Rehnquist. When Kennedy can be brought along for the ride (which is a somewhat more frequent occurrence than was O'Connor's fellow traveling), there is a working majority on Establishment Clause cases.

This is exactly what many Christians voted for George Bush for. Once Roberts is seated, and assuming Rehnquist's health holds out, it appears there may be a return to sanity in the rulings which come down to us from Mt. Olympus on matters of religious expression and many other matters as well.