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Why it’s a good idea to polygraph test sex offenders!

Following successful trials, mandatory polygraph testing for set to be introduced early next year in England and Wales as part of the post-conviction supervision of the most serious sex offenders.

Polygraph testing is now identified by many as an important element in the fight to keep society safe from sexual assault. The costs to our communities of these crimes are phenomenal, we’re not just talking the financial costs, which are huge when you consider the medical, mental health, emergency services and police costs: more importantly the adverse impact of this type of crime on the victim is unquantifiable.

Certain behaviours exhibited by sex offenders makes polygraph testing highly pertinent for this type of offender. This behaviour includes:

  • Sex offenders are often characterised by a strong need for power and control.
  • There is significant planning and preparation of their crimes to prevent being caught
  • Sex offenders vehemently deny or minimise their wrongdoing and deny facts.
  • They often exonerate themselves of culpability for their actions
  • They frequently deny or minimise their wrongdoing both about the offense of conviction AND past behaviours
  • Sex offenders deny the impact of the offence or harm caused to the victim

These ‘excuses’ implicitly give ‘permission’ for re-offending to reoccur. Sex- offenders do not take responsibility for their sexually abusive behaviour. Unfortunately, punishment alone does not prevent sex offenders from re-offending.

The use of polygraph examinations have proven key in breaking this denial and ensuring the offender accepts responsibility. This leads to admission of behaviours of concern, which otherwise would not have been known to probation officers and treatment providers. Regular polygraph of offenders testing results in less re-offending; the knowledge of an impending polygraph test causes the offender to inhibit their behaviour and report more information. Polygraph is an effective deterrent and should be introduced in Ireland.

Post-conviction sex offender polygraph testing has proven to be successful, it is an effective deterrent and importantly it keeps communities safe.

It is now time that the testing of sex offenders should be introduced in Ireland.