Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Living with the psychopath

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  • Russell Brown, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    So if we’re to congratulate ourselves on being above those kinds of delusions, we’re likely to be more tolerant of real crime because, hey. it’s declining, and each case is one less we have to worry about?

    I honestly can’t follow your meaning there.

    But if anyone’s interested, the Howard League has a fact sheet summarising the work of McGregor and others and there's a more recent follow-up study (covering only the ODT and the Southland Times) by Phil McCarthy.

    These trends have real impact on public perceptions of crime and punishment and these have political consequences. At the extreme, that can mean the out-of-control use of sex offender lists in various American states. There’s a chilling documentary about that called Outlawing Indecency.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18961 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to DexterX,

    Crime state are based on reporeted rather than actual. Crime rates are a long run politically manipulated stat – an example being more resources are put into policing and the crime stat goes up – fewer resoruces are applied and the crime stat goes down.

    That’s pretty much what we saw with the family violence strategy. The police policy of encouraging reporting seemed to account for most of the rise in reported violent crime – a figure which was used ruthlessly in a political sense. The biggest influence on crime rates over time seems to be demographic -- there's more crime when there are more people of crime-committing age.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18961 posts Report Reply

  • John Armstrong, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    The odd code that exists inside would see him in a situation befitting his treatment of his victims.

    Great, let's pile some more brutality in there. Wilson's apparent psychopathy might mean that he is effectively beyond help, but that doesn't justify brutalising him in turn.

    The answer (as Sacha alluded to earlier) has to be making legal provision for detaining these rare offenders indefinitely, and in Wilson's case, in making such provision retroactive so that both he, and we, are safe.

    Hamilton • Since Nov 2007 • 132 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to John Armstrong,

    The odd code that exists inside would see him in a situation befitting his treatment of his victims.

    Great, let’s pile some more brutality in there. Wilson’s apparent psychopathy might mean that he is effectively beyond help, but that doesn’t justify brutalising him in turn.

    Yes. Which was the point of my original post.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18961 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to John Armstrong,

    in Wilson’s case, in making such provision retroactive so that both he, and we, are safe.

    We might be safe from him, but one of the reasons that retroactive changes to law are such a dangerous step is that these lines tend to be crossed once and then it's no longer really taboo to cross them again. It's a classic "First they came..." scenario.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3909 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Russell Brown,

    The biggest influence on crime rates over time seems to be demographic – there’s more crime when there are more people of crime-committing age.

    Which in turn leads the faith-based dogmatists to jump to conclusions that bringing back the military draft and foisting intelligent design on schools is the silver bullet.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4351 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB, in reply to Russell Brown,

    But an actual study of outcomes from STOP and two other programmes found an average recidivism rate of 8.1% (5.2% for those who completed the programme) – that’s half the rate from the standard probationary approach,

    I had a quick browse, but not thorough read of that report, but I couldnt find how they defined recidivism?

    Convictions?
    Complaints to the police?
    Complaints to other official bodies?
    Just ask the person have you done it again?

    We all know these crimes are massively under reported, and convictions rates are low... Maybe being caught and doing a program reduces your re-offending, or maybe re-offending just isnt being detected?

    I'm sure these programs do good, but also I'm not sure you'll ever be able to accurately study how well they fix or prevent people doing stuff again. Only how few get caught again.

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 794 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    More likely because identifying him would lead to people “in the know” identifying his possible victims.

    This is the bit that gets me, why should the victims need protecting from public knowledge? they are victims. I find it quite sickening that society still treats the victims of sexual assault as if there were a stigma attached to being a victim and that, in some way, the victim is responsible for their own suffering..
    This may be the reason that an assault, which in many cases leaves little or no physical injury, is regarded by many as being worse than murder. The repugnance felt by many members of society (and I am looking squarely at the religious right here) is because anything to do with sex is buried deep below a protective layer of guilt.

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4869 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    No, name suppression was not at the request of those who had been subject to his behaviour. They wanted him named to alert others. It seems to have been because of having a powerful family and being able to afford top legal representation. He is now in a position to continue as before and there are a lot of jobs which do not require police checks.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 2096 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    I would respond that you are daring to suppose that it should be up to anyone other than the victim to decide who they let into their life. Strip away any societally-imposed shame (for want of a better phrase) and we’re still talking about things that have life-long impacts on people that extend far beyond feeling guilty based on social mores.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3909 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    No, name suppression was not at the request of those who had been subject to his behaviour.

    Uh, there are legal requirements around sexual offending and juveniles. The wishes of the victims are irrelevant in those cases.
    You may be right, but you also seem very willing to jump to a conclusion that can be countered based on the facts that you have provided.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3909 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to FletcherB,

    I’m sure these programs do good, but also I’m not sure you’ll ever be able to accurately study how well they fix or prevent people doing stuff again. Only how few get caught again.

    Assuming the definition is the same as that for the untreated control group, it does show an effect. Supposing that therapy actually makes re-offending harder to detect seems a long bow to draw.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18961 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    I've seen how one of those, once subject to his charms, has been villified, attacked, bullied, humiliated and harassed by the man and his family (and at times the legal system) over several years. So I'm probably biassed.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 2096 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    why should the victims need protecting from public knowledge? they are victims. I find it quite sickening that society still treats the victims of sexual assault as if there were a stigma attached to being a victim

    There was a famous case here in Chch where automatic name suppression of a sex-abuse victim was lifted at the request of the victim. He spoke out for exactly the reason you give - the offending was not his fault and he wanted everyone to recognise that. It was a courageous thing to do, knowing that people might always recognise him as "the sex-abuse victim" rather than for any of his own qualities or achievements.

    That's the sad thing that happens to the victims of notorious murders - their name is always linked to their killer's.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3466 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    I would respond that you are daring to suppose that it should be up to anyone other than the victim to decide who they let into their life.

    The fact that they are victims means that it is already too late for that, someone has already imposed their will and forced their way into their life.
    If you remove the stigma placed on the victim you remove the guilt felt by them and in doing so, diminish the damage.
    As a society we seem unable to do that, why?, Is it because sex is so dirty that it must be hidden and denied? and if you are forced to have sex you have been defiled and are deemed worthless?.
    I would like to live in a society that is just a bit more enlightened than that.

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4869 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB,

    I'm not saying therapy makes it harder to detect.... just that it is already very hard.... so only a percentage of those who do in fact continue their abuse, will be recorded as repeat offenders in the study.

    Estimates of how many abusers are caught and convicted vary, but are usually scary low... well below 50%.... so that means re-offending whether of the "control group" or the "people going through programs" could well be double the amount recorded, no?

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 794 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    and if you are forced to have sex you have been defiled and are deemed worthless?.

    I suggest you look into some of the other things that victims of sexual assault frequently suffer from before blithely talking about it being all down to society deeming them to be "defiled and worthless". Some of those things could end up with them being further victimised and manipulated if their identities became known.

    Plus, we're talking about children. You want to take away their freedom to determine in the future who they talk to about what's gone on in their past. Again you wrap it all up in this nice picture of an open society that doesn't treat sex as dirty, but a) we don't live in that society, and b) even if we did it would still be morally abhorrent to predetermine that it will be public record forever that someone who could not have given consent even if they desired to do so has had xyz sexual experiences. You wish them to be subjected to the ordinary insensitive conversation that accompanies being a teenager, for example: "So, did he make you swallow?" "How big was he? Did it hurt?" etc etc. You're naive if you think that an accepting society would not deliver consequences to young victims that have absolutely nothing to do with sexual puritanism. Think, also, how those details could be played out in all kinds of horrible ways by insensitive or manipulative future partner during the dating ritual.

    But, hey, it's all about how our society treats sex as dirty and we just need to get over that and it'll all be gravy to announce to the whole world the names of people who have been sexually assaulted.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3909 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    it would still be morally abhorrent to predetermine that it will be public record forever that someone who could not have given consent even if they desired to do so has had xyz sexual experiences

    I think this is the key point. This is something to which the rest of us are not and will never be subject. The rest of us have a choice about our privacy.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18961 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    However, in the situation I am talking about the woman was publicly named and vilified by the offender and his family who blamed her for 'causing' the offending. Because he got permanent name suppression she can never clear her name or reputation.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 2096 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    However, in the situation I am talking about the woman was publicly named and vilified by the offender and his family who blamed her for ‘causing’ the offending. Because he got permanent name suppression she can never clear her name or reputation.

    Ugh. What an awful situation.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18961 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    a) we don’t live in that society

    We agree on that point. The strawmen not so much.

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4869 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    Because he got permanent name suppression she can never clear her name or reputation.

    Or find closure.
    I don't feel comfortable discussing this further but I will say that openness is the key to recovery and secrecy is part of the problem, especially the suppression of an offenders identity.

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4869 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    The strawmen not so much.

    Uh, what?
    Here's the thing: consenting individuals get to choose who they let into their sexual histories. Who, how, what, etc, it's up to them to decide who knows. Publishing the details of those who have been sexually assaulted removes from them any choice in the matter.
    You consider it implausible and contrived that such details being made public would lead to teenage victims being subjected to questions from their peers that they may well not wish to hear? Or that future partners might make use of knowledge about what had happened and the psychological effects of such offending for their own advantage? Really?

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3909 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    one of the reasons that retroactive changes to law are such a dangerous step is that these lines tend to be crossed once and then it's no longer really taboo to cross them again

    It would hardly be the first or only retroactive law change, but I defer to others about whether it would be worth it for this small group of offenders pre-dating the preventative detention changes.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16754 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    You consider it implausible and contrived

    Yes, the majority of civilised people, including teenagers, are not that nasty but then I don't come from a pit that things crawl from.
    None taken...

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4869 posts Report Reply

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