Great news for child abusers. You can now be released if you "change genders"

Not all of the news coming out of Iowa revolves around next week’s caucuses, though you’ll probably wish it did in a moment. This particular story comes to us via the state Attorney General’s Office and it involves a former inmate of the Newton Correctional Facility. Joseph Matthew Smith, age 23, had been held there for several years because of “myriad sex crimes” against students at Midwest Christian Services. But now he’s been transferred to a residential treatment facility for transitional release.

Why? Because Joseph now goes by the name of Josie and is in the process of “transitioning” to become female. As such, he’s apparently no longer a danger to children. (Des Moines Register)

The Iowa Attorney General’s Office is no longer seeking the commitment of a former Midwest Christian Services student convicted of myriad sex crimes because the individual now identifies as a woman.

Court records show the state dismissed the application on Jan. 9. Attorney general spokesman Lynn Hicks wouldn’t comment on the reason for the dismissal other than to say “an offender’s hormone levels are an important part of substantiating an offender’s likelihood of recidivism.”

In November, the Storm Lake Times reported that Joseph Matthew Smith, a 23-year-old convicted of molesting a fellow MCS student in 2014, was “undergoing medical treatment that is needed prior to (Smith) potentially undergoing gender reassignment surgery.”

A spokesperson for the AG’s office said she didn’t want the public to “overreact” to the news of Smith’s release. And why would we? I mean, the guy has only molested “myriad” children. But now that he’s changed his name and started taking testosterone suppressors, I’m sure everything will be just fine, right?

Smith will remain on the sex-offender registration list for the rest of his life and be required to check in with parole officers. So does that mean that Iowa is meeting the minimum bar in terms of keeping the children of the state safe? Possibly, but you’re putting a lot of faith in a medical procedure of dubious value.

Keep in mind that “Josie” still hasn’t undergone “transitional” surgery. He’s just taking hormone therapy to lower his testosterone levels. The last time I checked, the state can’t force someone to undergo a surgical procedure to have their junk chopped off. And what happens if Smith decides to stop taking the medication after he’s been back out on the streets for a while? We’re generally not allowed to go snooping around in people’s medical records. Will there be regular testing done to ensure that his testosterone levels remain in the “safe” range?

All of this assumes that having a predilection for sexually assaulting minors is simply a matter driven by hormones. I’ll readily grant you that Smith’s backstory sounds pretty horrific, having allegedly been regularly abused himself as a child. Perhaps that was a significant factor leading to his behavior as an adult. But if that’s the case, simply lowering his hormone levels isn’t going to address everything going wrong in that brain.

If the DA’s office had waited until Smith had undergone irreversible surgery below the waist, I might be a little more open to this decision. At least that would limit the amount of damage he could do and it would definitely zero out most of his hormones on a permanent basis. But as long as Smith remains in some sort of “transitional” stage, this doesn’t sound like any way to ensure the safety of the public, particularly any children in the area where Smith eventually settles.