Government May No Longer Monitor Erection Size Of Sex Offenders, Federal Court Rules

| by

If you’re a convicted criminal, the government can do a lot of things to you that it’s not allowed to do to other people. But thanks to the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals, attaching a 1950s-era machine to your penis to measure the size of your erection is no longer one of them.

The New York City-based Circuit Court made that ruling in the case of David McLaurin, who in 2001 was convicted on child pornography charges. The charges themselves were somewhat dubious. His 13-year-old daughter wanted to pursue a modeling career. Or perhaps that should read “modeling” career, because to help her get started, she asked her dad to take topless photos of her.

Okay, that’s a little weird. And the fact that McLaurin actually took them is even weirder. But he did. And, in a lesson to all dads who take semi-nude shots of their teenage daughters totally innocently, he ended up pleading guilty to a kiddie porn charge and serving a mostly-suspended prison sentence.

Though a court judged him unlikely to reoffend, he was still subject to SORNA, the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, which has a number of highly inconvenient requirements. When he was convicted of violating SORNA, a court in addition to sending him back to jail, also required that he take a test known as a penile plethysmographic examination.

Basically, the procedure involves attaching a machine like the one pictured above to the subject’s penis, then showing him a series of erotic pictures or films.

The machine is capable, supposedly, of measuring even slight increases in blood flow to the penis, on the seemingly intuitive theory that an increasingly erect penis correlates with the subject’s level of sexual arousal.

That may seem to make sense, but as one law journal put it, “the penile plethysmograph as a predictive or forensic tool fails to meet the relevant legal standards for admissibility and has been repeatedly rejected by the scientific community.”

McLaurin challenged the plethysmography requirement and the federal court agreed with him, calling the procedure “invasive,” writing in its opinion that the test, “inflicts the obviously substantial humiliation of having the size and rigidity of one’s penis measured and monitored by the government under the threat of reincarceration.”

Finally, the court concluded that there is “no reasonable connection between fluctuating penis size and public protection.”

Sources: Above the Law, Brooklyn Eagle,