Federal Judge Approves Voice Technology To Monitor Sex Offenders

Paroled sex offenders can now be required to submit to computer voice stress analysis (CVSA) as part of their post-release supervision, a federal court in Albany, N.Y., recently ruled.

Northern District of New York Chief Judge Norman A. Mordue ruled that CVSA technology is as reliable as polygraph examinations in determining the truthfulness of parolees.

The ruling, handed down by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in United States v. Johnson, held that both the CVSA and polygraphs were reliable, that they could be validly related to the post-release supervision of an offender, and that they did not deprive a defendant of his constitutional rights.

Advocates of CVSA technology long touted its ability to detect otherwise inaudible voice inflections in responses to questions that can indicate whether a speaker is being truthful.

“This ruling is significant in that a federal judge has put [CVSA] on a par with the polygraph,” says Jim Kane, executive director of the National Institute for Truth Verification (NITV), a Palm Beach, Fla.-based company that has been producing CVSA technology since 1989.

“With sex offenders, its very important to monitor their activities,” Kane states. “CVSA is an extremely effective tool with great results.”

Kane points out that NITV’s own in-house studies have found CVSA technology to be approximately 98 percent accurate at detecting lies. He says CVSA is not meant to replace the polygraph, but rather, that it is similar technology that detects lies from a different angle. Using a microphone, the subject responds to questions with yes or no answers, but unlike the polygraph, CVSA can also be used over the phone or with taped recordings.

Admittedly, monitoring sex offenders is a niche area for CVSA technology. NITV has about 1,800 customers for its CVSA technology. “From the Atlanta P.D. to the Nashville P.D. to the California Highway Patrol, this is an investigative tool that has proven itself as invaluable in the field,” said Alan Hall, operations administrator of the NITV and a retired officer of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, in a statement.

Once restricted for sale only to law enforcement, the CVSA is now available for some commercial applications. “CVSA is used to investigate general crimes and for pre-employment job screenings,” Kane states. “This ruling potentially expands usage of the technology.”

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