Not all sex offenders are the same. Yet the media and politicians constantly use words like pedophile, pervert and predator to describe all sex offenders.
Not everyone on the registry has committed a sexual crime. Streaking and public urination are both crimes that are admissible on the registry. One man found himself on the registry for grabbing a girl’s arm to lecture her when she stepped out in front of his moving car! (“Man grabs girl’s arm “now he’s a sex offender.” World Net Daily, 7/2/2005) http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=45104
Plea agreements account for 95% of felony convictions. Prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges often press defendants into pleading guilty to a lesser offense to avoid jail, end a costly lawsuit, or support their families. As a result, people who might, in fact, be innocent of a sexual crime, will often plead guilty to the charge. (U.S. Sentencing Commission?s 2009 Sourcebook of Federal Sentencing Statistics, Table C)
The U.S. Department of Justice states the 3-year recidivism rate for sex offenders (rape or sexual assault) is only 5.3%. (Recidivism of Sex Offenders Released from Prison in 1994, Bureau ofJusticeStatistics,2003)(http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=1136)
Treatment can reduce sexual recidivism over a 5 year period by 5 – 8%. This may seem small, but consider this: There were about 210,000 rapes and sexual assaults in 2004. If only 100,000 of the perpetrators had undergone treatment, this could have been reduced by 5,000 to 8,000. “Thus, relatively small reductions in sexual recidivism rates can have a notable impact on the number of victims, even if the reduction in sexual recidivism is not “statistically significant.” (Prentky, R. & Schwartz, B. (December, 2006). Treatment of Adult Sex Offenders. Harrisburg, PA: VAWnet, a project of the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence/Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence.) http://new.vawnet.org/category/Main_Doc.php?docid=690
Future recidivism risk can be reliably assessed using validated risk assessments and diagnostic tools. Thus only those who continue to be assessed as high risk need to be closely monitored more than a few years.
Support systems help to reduce recidivism. Former offenders need a stable home and work environment. This is something their families need also. Anything keeping them from support systems and accountability networks can be harmful. (USDOJ)
Re-offense rate averages: for auto theft 78.8%, possession/sale of stolen property 77.4%, burglary 74.0%, armed robbery 70.2%, larceny 74.6%, sex offenses 3.5%. (Bureau of Justice Statistics http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/index.cfm?ty=tp&tid=17 )
Online stalking and abduction are very rare. Adults pretending to be teens account for only 3% of internet crime, and most child victims meet expecting to have sex. ( www.unh.edu/ccrc )
Facts about Public Registration
93% of sex offenses are committed by someone not on the registry. (USDOJ) Thus you could say the registry is at least 93% ineffective.
90% of sex offenses against children under age 12 are committed by someone the child knows (and almost half of these offenders are a family member). In cases of sexual assault against ages 12 and older, 80% know the offender. ( http://www.meganslaw.ca.gov/facts.aspx)
Public registration requirements are creating a false sense of security. Law Enforcement resources have been stretched to the point where the small percentage of high-risk offenders cannot be adequately monitored.
The cost of maintaining the registry and the myriad other ineffective laws targeting former sex offenders reaches hundreds of millions of dollars each year (USDOJ).
“Megan’s Law ineffective, study says.” Philadelphia Inquirer, February 7, 2009. “… there is little evidence, despite the popularity of the sex-offender notification laws, that they are effective… Recent studies on sexual offender notification laws in New York and Arkansas reached similar conclusions.”
Children Who Are Sex Offenders
More than a third of all child molestation is committed by children themselves. The U.S. Department of Justice finds the age with the greatest number of offenders is 14.6 years old (“Juveniles Who Commit Sex Offenses Against Minors” Finkelhor, Ormrod, and Chaffin. OJJDP Juvenile Justice Bulletin, December, 2009. http://www.unh.edu/ccrc/pdf/CV171.pdf). Would you want your child to end up on a public registry?
A 2007 review of a longitudinal data set of three cohorts of youth in Wisconsin found that of men who had contact with police for a sex offense as youth, only 8.5 percent had contact with police for a sex offense as adults.(Franklin E. Zimring, et al., Sexual Delinquency in Racine: Does Early Sex Offending Predict Later Sex Offending in Youth and Young Adulthood”, 6 Criminology & Pub. Pol”y 507-534 (2007))
Our justice system applies a double standard: A child is considered someone under the age of consent, unless they are being prosecuted (Franklin E. Zimring. An American Travesty: Legal Responses to Adolescent Sexual Offending. Adolescent Development and Legal Policy Monograph Series. 2004)
Other Important Facts
Statistics show here is no rise in sex crimes during Halloween; kids are more likely to get hit by a car ( http://bit.ly/Gjeig ).
Longer punishment-driven sentencing has not been proven to reduce recidivism; however the cost to house these prisoners is tremendous, at an estimated $20-25,000 per year per inmate (USDOJ).
Laws passed and enforced after a person’s conviction (ex post facto) are unconstitutional on both the federal and state levels.
Recent, reliable studies indicate that only a miniscule .013% of child pornography offenders are actually at risk to commit contact sexual offenses involving other children. (Michael Seto and Angela W Eke, “The Criminal Histories and Later Offending of Child Pornography Offenders”, 17 Sexual Abuse: J Res. & Treatment 2005).
Registry restrictions have not been proven effective at preventing child sexual abuse by registered sex offenders. In fact, by destabilizing this group, the restrictions are more likely to cause harm than to prevent it.