Tuesday, January 28, 2014

State by state, the truth is coming out

In Colorado, in the middle of our nation, something has begun that, with any luck at all, will spread out from the center and continue until it permeates every corner of the country.

This article summarizes it. Titled "Audit criticizes Colorado's program for monitoring sex offenders," the heart of it is this: Colorado "...is wasting significant amounts of public money on supervision in the community.... The report's recommendations, if adopted, could dramatically change the supervision of sex offenders, many of whom are now monitored for life."

This report verifies what research and reform advocates have said for years. Most convicted sex offenders do not re-offend. Many do not need extensive treatment or supervision. Criteria used to determine levels and classifications are "hopelessly flawed."

Multiply this times every state, and the scope of the problem is immense. Millions in dollars and other resources are being thrown down the toilet.

With over 90% of all sexual offenses, close to 100% with children, being committed by those not on a registry, this ineffective model not only wastes resources but also leaves victims with no hope for the future. The only way to lower the incidences of future sexual assault is with comprehensive awareness and education programs in communities and schools  for both adults and children.

The article makes note of the fact that some victims' advocates were unhappy with the report and in disagreement with it. The only reason some victims' groups--not all do--would want to continue with the current system is that perpetual revenge against those who have already offended takes precedence over the prevention of new victims in the future.

I cannot think of anything more selfish.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Well, there's lies, and there's damn lies, and then there's statistics

Please read this opinion piece/political advertisment before continuing.

If I were writing a flippant or sardonic piece here, I would commend the author for his jamming a record number of misleading and misused "facts" and quasi-statistics into his article, and I guess that can be my sub-text, but the growing tendency to do this and the public’s glazed-over acceptance of anything that slams those on the sex offender registry deserve a more serious analysis.

From the op/ed: “Although the New Jersey Appellate Court and Supreme Court acknowledge the relatively high recidivism rate of sex offenders….” If they do, they are fools. So much has been written, posted, and published by legitimate, peer-reviewed studies, starting in New Jersey, debunking this most favored of myths, that I don’t see how anyone who can read still “…acknowledges the relatively high recidivism rate of sex offenders….” Even if they are calling recidivism anything that results in a re-arrest and not just re-offense of a sexual crime, it is a ridiculous statement to make.

Representative Bateman maintains that, “Between 2000 and 2006, there was a 21 percent increase in arrests of offenders who solicited youth online for sex, according to a 2009 study….” However, he does not see fit to emulate the late Paul Harvey and tell the rest of the story. A more recent study shows that the perception of danger from Internet predators is largely influenced by the media; it further shows that the majority of juveniles receiving sexually explicit communications online are receiving them from other juveniles and those close to them in age, not from the older, trench-coat draped predator. And even if that were not a consideration, the study makes no connect at all between the 21% increase in online solicitation arrests and the registered sex offender, who is the only target group for this legislation. Mr. Bateman, not surprisingly, fails to make it also.

According to Sex Offender Research and News, this is "slight-of-hand handling of statistics: The study mentioned DOES NOT say the increase in online sex crimes was by FORMER SEX OFFENDERS...non sex offenders released committed six new sex crimes to every one by former sex offenders. Who is more dangerous to the community?"

And finally the good Mr. Bateman throws in the old “four times more likely” finding from the Department of Justice—or at least he throws in part of it. Yes, the finding was that within the first three years after release, 5.3% of sex offenders were rearrested for another sex offense. He omits that the percentage being re-convicted was 3.5.

He also omits the fact that the released non-sex offenders' rate of 1.3 percent resulted in many, many thousands more sexual crimes than did those being committed by the released sex offenders, even at the higher percentage. "While 1.3% appears to be less than 5.3%, the statistic fails to point out that actual numbers show non sex offenders commit six sex crimes to every one by a sex offender." (1)

We are certainly aware that many politicians are highly unlikely to pass a polygraph, especially if the topic is in support of legislation they are sponsoring. We are also aware that virtually anything negative can be said about or proposed that will negatively affect registered sex offenders, and the general public will perceive it as good, based largely on the rhetoric from those making the laws and the dissemination of that rhetoric via most media sources.

Isn’t it time that we stopped accepting the lies and half-lies and demand accountability and transparency and plain, old-fashioned facts and truth from everyone and everything that has a hand in shaping public policy?

(1) http://sexoffenderresearch.blogspot.com/2014/01/opinion-require-nj-sex-offenders-to.html

Monday, January 6, 2014

No Doubt About It--Sex Sells

Among all of the many topics under the umbrella of sex offender issues, I guess that sex trafficking has been fairly low on my radar, that is until I read this article about the need for increased police efforts in New Jersey between now and the Super Bowl to curtail the huge sex trafficking problem.

The most significant--and honest--statement from this article is, "There are scant statistics...over how much sex trafficking increases...." That is because it doesn't. Prostitution may increases, possibly; with more potential buyers, there will be more sellers. Look at the elements needed for "trafficking": a buyer, a seller, and, often, a middleman. How is that different from what has been the world's oldest occupation for thousands of years?

I am not downplaying the destructive lifestyle inherent in the sex trade. I have often said that the true victims were the prostitutes themselves, and I know that many young run-away teens get trapped in the lifestyle. But this isn't a new problem, and fancying it up in new language in order to get increased funding and federal grants and beef up police squads is dishonest, and using language and rhetoric that has parents terrified that their children will be snatched off the street and forced against their will to prostitute themselves is irresponsible journalism.

Now, if the real objective is to keep the specter of the "sex monster" and the need for an ever-increasing sex offender industry alive and well, then this article does a good job of that.