May 27, 2010

NY v Junco: Sex, Civil, Hygiene, and Mental, All In One Post

gavel and stethescope.jpg
when you lay down with dogs, you come up with fleas

Forensic psychiatrist James Knoll writes The Political Diagnosis: Psychiatry in the service of the law.  You should read it (short) now, I'll wait.

If you have the great misfortune to live in NY, as I once did, for three years in a miserable art deco apartment building near 180 and Broadway, sandwiched between Hellfire and Damnation, fighting thugs to get into an apartment you had to fight roaches to get out of-- but I digress.

In any event, the state of New York is pleased to offer civil commitment of sex offenders.  How do you determine who is "a sex offender requiring civil management?" 

According to the Mental Hygiene Law (yes, it's called that)

" '[s]exual offender requiring civil management' means a detained sex offender who suffers from a mental abnormality. A sex offender requiring civil management can, as determined by procedures set forth in this article, be either (1) a dangerous sex offender requiring confinement or (2) a sex offender requiring strict and intensive supervision."

The second sentence is indecipherable.  I think it says, "a person requiring commitment is a) a dangerous person requiring commitment or b) a person requiring commitment."

Leaving us with the first sentence:  "... is a sex offender who suffers from a mental abnormality."

Mental abnormality is: a condition that "predisposes him to the commission of conduct constituting a sex offense and that results in his having a serious difficulty in controlling such conduct."

Which makes sentence 1: "a sex offender requiring commitment is a sex offender who suffers from a condition that makes him a sex offender."  Which, of course, means anything you want it to.


Douglas Junco was sentenced to 15 years for attempting to rape a woman because she gave him a ride home from a bar.  After serving out his sentence, the state tried to civilly commit him further, but the jury refused to play along, so Junco went to Georgia and raped a 48 year old relative.

You'll probably want to say that he should have been civilly committed after all. 

So what psychiatric testimony was presented to get him committed?  The psychiatrist diagnosed him with:

Axis I: Impulse Control Disorder NOS. 
Axis II: Antisocial Personality Disorder.

I will post a naked picture of myself punching a dolphin if anyone can tell me what the difference between those two diagnoses is in this case.   Which one of these constitutes the mental abnormality?  Explain your answer using evidence.  It's a trial, right?

The judge:

...the court expresses its concern that although the respondent had been subjected to numerous psychiatric evaluations while in custody over a prolonged period of time (since 1992), he never was diagnosed with impulse control disorder NOS until the evaluation by Dr. Gonzalez on March 15, 2007. The court is further concerned that Dr. Gonzalez was generally not aware of the circumstances surrounding the numerous "tickets" issued to the respondent while in custody; that the doctor apparently gave some consideration to a criminal charge against the respondent in 1991 which was in effect immediately dismissed; that a determination had been made in a separate proceeding that as to the instant offense there was a lack of sexual contact; and, finally, that the doctor apparently was not provided with, nor did he therefore consider, any favorable reports submitted as to the respondent while he was in custody.
If you are thinking the psychiatrist didn't do a good enough job of presenting evidence to commit, you're missing the point.  The psychiatrist did everything exactly the way every other psychiatrist does things, i.e. half-assed and disinterestedly. But that same evidence could easily have gotten a man committed forever.  The reason he wasn't diagnosed with Impulse Control Disorder while in prison is because there was no external reason for the diagnosis.  There were no services to provide or deny him on the basis of a diagnosis.  And the reason Gonzalez did diagnose him with that is because that's what he needed for a commitment, in the absence of good stuff like psychosis.  Expediency.  It's that simple.

In addition to reviewing numerous documents and reports concerning the respondent, Dr. Gonzalez conducted a telepsychiatry interview of Mr. Junco which lasted approximately one hour. Incredibly, the doctor did not take any notes during the interview. 
Incredibly?  Your Honor, what was incredible is that it lasted an hour, and by incredible I mean completely and utterly impossible.

Again, to clarify: we're upset he didn't do a good enough job to commit, but a judge could easily have just taken the psychiatric testimony at face value and locked him and his mom and his fish and his car for a century.   The hoax is that there is any evidence to present at all.  What evidence?  What does a shrink know about future behavior, of human nature?  I'm not saying intelligent things aren't known; I'm saying they are not more known by shrinks.  Hell, why wouldn't you just ask other sex offenders for their testimony? 

The reason this guy was able to get out and rape again is the same reason why other people who won't ever hurt anyone will be held indefinitely with no recourse:  political expediency masquerading as science.


Just a piece of advice.  If you are ever arrested, make sure to ask for a jury.  As for two juries.  If your lawyer says the words "bench" and "trial" at any point in the same paragraph, flee to Argentina.  Those 12 idiots, imperfect as they are, are one of the only things protecting you from a top down, hierarchical, classist, flow chart wielding government clusterfuck that has no time, interest, or money to deal with people as individuals, so it deals with them as groups, types, diagnoses and organ banks.