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Penile Plethysmography and How Did It Get This Far?

In a remarkable show of sanity and spine, the federal court of appeals that covers New York (the Second Circuit) has rejected the legality of “penile plethysmography”, a little bit of pseudo science that could only have been concocted in a Weimar Berlin basement dungeon.  Used as a “tool” to evaluate the likelihood of a “sex offender” “re-offending”, the penile plethysmograph is a clamp that goes around the dick of the “offender” to measure his boner when shown different pornography.  The Second Circuit could (justifiably) barely conceal their contempt for the feds who were its proponents, noting that  “the size of the erection is, we are told, of interest to government officials…”  I’m not positive, but I think the Court is accusing the feds themselves of a certain level of depravity.

As well as they should have been.  The decision makes clear that the feds could not come up with the remotest scientific basis for the test, and the distinction between an unconscious desire and an act is surely clear to any layperson.  I mean, I get a boner when I look at an aged porterhouse- it doesn’t mean I’m gonna fuck it.

The way “sex offenders” are treated in this country is political, not scientific, and is counter-productive.   The alarming thing is that it took a federal court of appeals to put an end to this nonsense.  Just more evidence that when judges and prosecutors act on their subconscious political urges, people get hurt.

Here’s the decision:




Andrew Stoll is a New York City Criminal Defense, Civil Rights, and Employee Lawyer. He is the founding partner of Stoll, Glickman & Bellina, LLP, a Brooklyn based law firm dedicated to empowering the exploited. Stoll is an adjunct law professor at Seton Hall Law School, sits on the Corrections Committee of the New York City Bar Association, and is a member of the National Police Accountability Project.
  1. AKON Reply

    Instead I think Penile Plethysmography should be mandatory for every guy, because we need to care about women’s security and not about the male privacy. We males are beasts and deserve even invasive methods to be under control!

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