You’re likely familiar with former NFL defensive back Darren Sharper and his alleged sexual assault spree. As a result of his crimes, Sharper will serve nine years in prison and the rest of his life on probation. Here are just some of the things he will have to deal with when he gets out of prison:
He cannot drink alcohol.
He must register as a sex offender.
He can’t internet date.
State officials must approve any travel outside of 50 miles.
Here’s the kicker:
Sharper will be subject to lie detector tests and, while on lifetime probation in Arizona, to the “penile plethysmograph,” in which a sensor is attached to the penis while an array of sexual images flashes before his eyes, to gauge arousal.
What is a penile plethysmograph? And what the hell does it have to do with a sex offender? Glad you asked…
Penile plethysmography tests a man’s level of sexual arousal and “involves placing a pressure-sensitive device around a man’s penis, presenting him with an array of sexually stimulating images, in determining his level of sexual attraction by measuring minute changes in his erectile responses” (Odeshoo JR: Of penology and perversity: the use of penile plethysmography on convicted child sex offenders. Temp Pol Civ Rights Law Rev 14:1, 2004). American sex offender treatment programs utilize this test widely, and U.S. courts mandate plethysmography frequently as a term of supervised release. Penile plethysmography, polygraph, and Abel tests are utilized to monitor whether a supervised-release sex offender is at increased risk of reoffending.
In short, the plethysmograph is used by courts to determine whether a sex offender will repeat a crime. It’s somewhat controversial, and frankly, there are studies out there that refute its efficacy.
All that aside, Sharper is in for a lifetime of people watching every move he makes. Given the allegations levied against him, that’s probably a good thing.