Push to require polygraphs for sex offenders begins | News
HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM)- In Mississippi right now - sex offenders on probation have it quite a bit easier than in most other states. Here, monitoring requires convicted sex offenders sit down with an officer for periodic interviews; elsewhere, they will sit down for a polygraph - also known as a lie detector test.
"What we do now is have sit down visits," said polygraph examiner and Hattiesburg Police Department Detective David Clayton. "Have you been around any children? No sir, I went to prison for that, I would never do that again," Clayton said, describing a likely answer a sex offender may give in a probation interview.
More than 30 states have a law on the books requiring sex offenders to be monitored via lie detector tests, but Mississippi is not one of them.
"My big fear in Mississippi - and I already see it and nobody's talking about it - but we have other states that do sex offender testing, their offenders are moving to Mississippi because we don't check on them," said Clayton - holding up air quotes as he speaks the last words.
Clayton is on the board of the Mississippi Association of Polygraph Examiners which, right now, is working to form a bill that would require convicted sex offenders to submit to - and pay as much as several hundred dollars for - periodic polygraphs.
In one study, the National Academy of Sciences has deemed polygraph testing, on average, 92 percent accurate. However Senator Joey Fillingane of District 41 says that that may not be reliable enough for legislators in Jackson.
"They're a fairly old technology and there have been a lot of studies that show that they're not 100 percent accurate," said Fillingane, adding, "Of course nothing is 100 percent accurate."
Fillingane has not taken a side on the issue yet, but says the stopper in congress would likely be the reliability of the actual test - or money.
"Any new dollars for programs are very hard to come by in Jackson."
Clayton said the law still has to be written and screened through the Mississippi justice system, so it will likely be years before using a polygraph to monitor sex offenders on probation is up for debate in the capitol.