A convicted felon will be released from jail after undergoing a gender transition because Iowa authorities no longer view the repeat sex offender as a threat.
Joseph Matthew Smith, who according to court documents identifies as Josie, was transferred over the weekend to a Sioux City residential facility center ahead of her transitional release, the Storm Lake Times reported, citing a spokesman for the Iowa Department of Corrections.
The Iowa Attorney General’s Office will no longer pursue the incarceration of Smith, who was convicted in 2014 of molesting a fellow student at a residential treatment program.
According to a preliminary report prepared by the state’s expert, Smith molested as many as 15 victims — ranging in age from 1 to 15 — prior to being sentenced to prison in Dec. 2015.
The report, issued before Smith underwent her gender transition, recommended she be confined at the Cherokee Civil Commitment Unit for Sex Offenders.
However, the recommendation was based on her male sex drive.
According to a former director of the Cherokee Civil Commitment Unit for Sex Offenders, it is much harder for the state to prove someone is at risk to reoffend once the individual significantly lowers their testosterone levels.
Smith, 16 at the time, was convicted in March 2014 for lascivious acts with a child, Iowa Sex Offender registry records show.
Another listing on the Iowa Sex Offender registry shows Smith was convicted of sexual abuse in the second degree in Aug. 2012.
In Oct. 2017, Smith began using female pronouns and expressed a desire to undergo a gender transition, the Storm Lakes Times reported in November.
For the past two years, Smith has been receiving treatment for gender reassignment.
The Attorney General’s Office dismissed an application seeking to commit Smith on Jan. 9, court records show.
When asked why the application was dismissed, attorney general spokesman Lynn Hicks told the Storm Lake Times that “an offender’s hormone levels are an important part of substantiating an offender’s likelihood of recidivism.”
“We don’t believe we have evidence sufficient to prove Josie Smith has a significant chance of reoffending,” Hicks said earlier this month.
Hicks said Smith will be subject to “strict sex-offender reporting” requirements and urged the public not to overreact to Smith’s release.
“She’ll be subject to supervision for the rest of her life,” Hicks said.
It is not clear when Smith will be released.