California child molester Sidney Landau, 68, is in a state mental hospital and has lost his latest bid to be released. That failed attempt raises an interesting angle to the pedophile issue, says Los Angeles Times columnist Dana Parsons: How is a layman supposed to know when the offender is ready to be released? Landau has been convicted twice of molesting young boys, one 10 years old, the other 8. He has admitted to molesting eight other boys before his arrest 20 years ago. Should a molester serve, in effect, a life sentence for a crime that doesn’t carry that punishment? It doesn’t sound fair, says Parsons.
Juries have been hung over whether to release Landau. One voted 11 to 1 to release Landau in 2001. The second jury, earlier this month, voted 8 to 4 not to release him. He will be tried a third time. Martha Rogers, a forensic psychologist not involved in the case, says, that, “most lay people don’t really have a grasp of, how shall we say, the life pattern of these people. There is some research that has tracked the offenders for 20 or 30 years, and there is a pretty decent chance they will re-offend. Twenty years, unfortunately, doesn’t really prove anything” as to whether they’ll re-offend. Nor does being 68 years old mean that a former offender is less likely to do so again, Rogers says.