Officials in Iowa have determined a convicted child molester is to be released from incarceration, explaining that the offender's reduction in testosterone levels due to transition from being a man to becoming a transgender female puts the individual at a lower risk of reoffending.
What are the details?
The Storm Lake Times first reported Jan. 15 that the Iowa attorney general's office is no longer seeking the commitment of 23-year-old felon Josie Smith, who was put away after being convicted of molesting a fellow Midwest Christian Services student in 2014 when Smith was a man with the given name Joseph Matthew Smith.
The Times previously reported in November that Smith was "undergoing medical treatment that is needed prior to (Smith) potentially undergoing gender reassignment surgery." Smith now identifies as a woman and goes by the name Josie Smith.
Now, Lynn Hicks, a spokesperson for the AG's office, says, "We don't believe we have evidence sufficient to prove Josie Smith has a significant change of reoffending," explaining that "an offender's hormone levels are an important part of substantiating an offender's likelihood of recidivism."
Hicks also argued that the public should not "overreact" regarding the release, saying, "Josie Smith will be subject to strict sex-offender reporting requirements of those who commit the crimes she did. She'll be subject to supervision for the rest of her life."
The Iowa Sex Offender Registry shows Smith was convicted of second-degree sexual abuse against a female victim in 2012 and lascivious acts with a child against a male victim in 2014. The registry does not give the victim's ages; they are listed as children under the age of 13.
But "a preliminary report prepared by the state's expert, Dr. Jeffrey Davis, says Smith molested as many as 15 victims, ranging from ages 1 to 13, before being sentenced to prison in December 2015," the Times noted. That report found that Smith had a greater than 20 percent change of reoffending within five years of being released.
But now that Smith is a woman, her risk of reoffending is statistically lower, and it is more difficult to make the case that Smith will reoffend under Iowa statute. The Times writes that it is more difficult to prove a sexual offender will strike again "when an offender significantly lowers his testosterone levels, which has a significantly higher impact on sex drive than estrogen."
Smith was transferred to a treatment facility in preparation for release earlier this month. It is unclear whether Smith has already been released.