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Bob Dyer: Sex-crime punishments incredibly inconsistent

We seem to have no trouble differentiating between a minor fistfight and an assault with a crowbar that turns someone into a vegetable. But for some reason, we tend to lump all sex crimes into one big category. Full Opinion Piece

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  1. HOOKSCAR

    It looks as though Mr.Dyer is going to actually look into the real stats on recidivism. Will be interesting reading more of his articles in the future.

  2. Mike

    The feedback is working! He quotes one actual study in this article and promises a closer look at the recidivism studies in an article to be released over the weekend. It’s nice to see emotion give way to facts, and someone who’s willing to take a look at the data somewhat objectively.

  3. mike r

    Yep I just sent him all the reports I’ve collected.

  4. Margaret Moon

    Thanks for posting this new piece by Mr. Dyer. I had written to him expressing my disappointment at the recidivism statement in his previous OpEd. He wrote back and directed me to this article. He also mentioned that he will be researching for a new article on Sunday addressing this issue.
    Thanks, Mr. Dyer, for being ethical and responsible! I just wish everyone in the media were more like you!!!

  5. mike r

    This is what I sent him and I hope everyone distributes these reports to everyone possible.

    Law makers keep adding more restrictions and regulations on ex-sex offenders and they are completely counterproductive since it further destabilizes their lifes and makes it more difficult to reintergrate into society which increases the risk for reoffense. These laws were originally designed to give law enforcement a tool to track and apprehend sexually violent predators, child abducters/rapist and habitual repeat offenders when such acts have been committed in the community but have since been expanded to the point to make the registration and notification laws useless to law enforcement or the general public. Just because these laws are so popular within the legislature or the public does not mean that there is a rational basis for such laws. With the facts and evidence of all the destabilizing collateral consequences people endure and all the recent research done on this subject there is overwhelming evidence that these laws are completely irrational especially when applied to non-violent, first time offenders for such long periods of time. Here are some facts from the leading authorities on the subject of sex offender legislation that will help in your investigation into this subject. Be sure to note that the CASOMB has consistently recommended overhauling the entire registration scheme in which the legislature has ignored.

    California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) End of year report 2014. (page. 13)

    Under the current system many local registaring agencies are challenged just keeping up with registration paperwork. It takes an hour or more to process each registrant, the majority of whom are low risk offenders. As a result law enforcement cannot monitor higher risk offenders more intensively in the community due to the sheer numbers on the registry. Some of the consequences of lengthy and unnecessary registration requirements actually destabilize the lifes of registrants and those -such as families- whose lives are often substantially impacted. Such consequences are thought to raise levels of known risk factors while providing no discernable benefit in terms of community safety.

    The full report is availible online at. http://www.casomb.org/index.cfm?pid=231

    National Institute of Justice (NIJ) US Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs United States of America.

    The overall conclusion is that Megan’s law has had no demonstrated effect on sexual offenses in New Jersey, calling into question the justification for start-up and operational costs. Megan’s Law has had no effect on time to first rearrest for known sex offenders and has not reduced sexual reoffending. Neither has it had an impact on the type of sexual reoffense or first-time sexual offense. The study also found that the law had not reduced the number of victims of sexual offenses.

    The full report is available online at. https://www.ncjrs.gov/app/publications/abstract.aspx? ID=247350

    The University of Chicago Press for The Booth School of Business of the University of Chicago and The University of Chicago Law School Article DOI: 10.1086/658483

    Conclusion. The data in these three data sets do not strongly support the effectiveness of sex offender registries. The national panel data do not show a significant decrease in the rate of rape or the arrest rate for sexual abuse after implementation of a registry via the internet. The BJS data that tracked individual sex offenders after their release in 1994 did not show that registration had a significantly negative effect on recidivism. And the D.C. crime data do not show that knowing the location of sex offenders by census block can help protect the locations of sexual abuse. This pattern of noneffectiveness across the data sets does not support the conclusion that sex offender registries are successful in meeting their objectives of increasing public safety and lowering recidivism rates.

    The full report is availible online at. http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/658483

    These are not isolated conclusions but are the same outcomes in the majority of conclusions and reports on this subject from multiple government agencies and throughout the academic community.

    People should not rely on and reiterate the statements and opinions of the legislators or the courts in previous decisions as to the need for the laws because of the high recidivism rates and the high risk offenders pose to the public which simply is not true and is pure hyperbole and fiction. People should rely on facts and data collected and submitted in reports from the leading authorities and credible experts in the fields such as the following.

    SEX OFFENDER RECIDIVISM ANALYSIS A State-by-State Comparison of Recidivism Rates Between Sex Offenders and All Felony Offenders (1983-2010) © 2010 Sam Caldwell. All Rights Reserved.

    Summary

    The following is a collection of recidivism studies comparing the failure rate of all felony offenders to the failure rate of sex offenders who have committed a new sex crime. All of the studies presented on this page are carefully selected state-sponsored studies, authorized by either the federal Government (US Department of Justice) or the several state legislatures and their respective state agencies. Every effort has been made to eliminate purely academic or politically motivated research.

    The findings in this analysis stand in contrast to conventional wisdom perpetuated during the 1990s. It is a false assumption that sex offender recidivism rates are higher than non-sex offenders. It is also a myth that the majority of sex crimes are committed by convicted or registered sex offenders. Further it is a myth that the many hours of legislative testimony on this subject is backed by research, as the majority of all research on this subject shows that (a) sex offender and overall recidivism varies from state to state as a result of policies enacted in a given state, and (b) sex offender recidivism is surprisingly lower than previously reported by political figures or the media. In fact, as this analysis concludes, the average recidivism rate reported by the studies collected herein is approximately 9%, compared to an average 42% recidivism for all felony offenders.

    The full report is available online at. http://recidivism.me/

    Bureau of Justice Statistics

    5 PERCENT OF SEX OFFENDERS REARRESTED FOR ANOTHER SEX CRIME WITHIN 3 YEARS OF PRISON RELEASE

    WASHINGTON, D.C.—Within 3 years following their 1994 state prison release, 5.3 percent of sex offenders (men who had committed rape or sexual assault) were rearrested for another sex crime, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today.

    The full report is available online at. http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/press/rsorp94pr.cfm

    Document title; A Model of Static and Dynamic Sex Offender Risk Assessment Author: Robert J. McGrath, Michael P. Lasher, Georgia F. Cumming Document No.: 236217 Date Received: October 2011 Award Number: 2008-DD-BX-0013

    Findings: Study of 759 adult male offenders under community supervision Re-arrest rate: 4.6% after 3-year follow-up

    The sexual re-offense rates for the 746 released in 2005 are much lower than what many in the public have been led to expect or believe. These low re-offense rates appear to contradict a conventional wisdom that sex offenders have very high sexual re-offense rates.

    The full report is available online at. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/236217.pdf

    Document Title: SEX OFFENDER SENTENCING IN WASHINGTON STATE: RECIDIVISM RATES BY: Washington State Institute For Public Policy.

    A study of 4,091 sex offenders either released from prison or community supervision form 1994 to 1998 and examined for 5 years Findings: Sex Crime Recidivism Rate: 2.7%

    Link to Report: http://www.oncefallen.com/files/Washington_SO_Recid_2005.pdf

    Document Title: Indiana’s Recidivism Rates Decline for Third Consecutive Year BY: Indiana Department of Correction 2009.

    The recidivism rate for sex offenders returning on a new sex offense was 1.05%, one of the lowest in the nation. In a time when sex offenders continue to face additional post-release requirements that often result in their return to prison for violating technical rules such as registration and residency restrictions, the instances of sex offenders returning to prison due to the commitment of a new sex crime is extremely low. Findings: sex offenders returning on a new sex offense was 1.05%

    Link to Report: http://www.in.gov/idoc/files/RecidivismRelease.pdf

    These are not isolated conclusions but are the same outcomes in the majority of reports on this subject from multiple government agencies and throughout the academic community.

    Thank you for your honest, fact based article.

    • Timmr

      I have a suggestion that the web designer for this site put these links and all other relevant studies in a side bar on every page. That way, we can have the information handy when we write letters or make comments to the articles. I am going to put these links in a folder on my computer. Organization is key to success.
      Also, we need to tell the difference between “recidivism” and “re-offense”. The CDCR report states a recidivism rate of about 70%. 1.8% of those recidivists committed a new sexual offense or about 1.2% of the total on parole. The rest are mostly parole violations. It is very important which number is used and what it measures. Our draconian state propositions use that misleading figure of 70% to justify the notion of high danger to the public, so we should be careful on how we present studies as evidence.

  6. The Anon

    Awesome article! The feedback did indeed work. Now let’s write to him and thank him for writing an unbiased article that looks at facts instead of emotion!

  7. ab

    Hopefully this will get people thinking and talking about what sex offenses are or are not. I’d rather not open the child pornography can of worms just yet, but if someone wanted the truth then a few points raised by Bob would be excellent starting positions for thought provoking lines of questioning and discovering what questions should be asked.

  8. JM

    I wrote to him as well.

  9. Molly

    Congratulations everyone! Our efforts really did make a difference and absolutely influenced Bob’s opinion on the topic. Other then a quick thank you note (if you like his article this Sunday) I think we should probably leave him alone for now. I got this message back from him today (Friday):

    “Thanks for your note. My column for Sunday is already in the can. And if I read one more study on this topic, my head is going to explode. I ended up quoting some meta-studies, including one that looked at 82 previous studies.

    Having written three consecutive columns on the same topic (which I hardly EVER do), I’m not planning another one anytime soon.

    I think you will enjoy Sunday’s column. You didn’t say whether or not you live in the area; if not, you can find it by googling my name and clicking on the first website that appears.”

  10. JM

    He actually read the studies! That’s a first. He also replied to my email.
    For that, I vote him “man of the year”.
    Seriously, it’s very rare for someone to take their time to respond, and I for one, really thought highly of him for that alone.

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