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What’s the Real Rate of Sex-Crime Recidivism?

In the early 1980s, rehabilitation counselor Robert Longo could hardly have known that his work with convicted sex offenders would make him a minor celebrity. At the time, he was running a program at the Oregon State Hospital to treat and rehabilitate prisoners who had committed sex crimes. It was a new field, and Longo says they were using what at the time were considered innovative approaches: aversive conditioning, administration of Depo-Provera to reduce testosterone levels, and penile plethysmography to measure arousal. Full Article

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  1. Mike r

    this is a key statement

    Trying to get legislatures to fix these things is almost hopeless,” he says. “But trying to get courts to fix them is less hopeless because courts have to provide a rational, reasoned explanation of their decisions.”

    • Anonymous Nobody

      Unfortunately, he is naive. As we have seen time and time and time again, the courts will just lie if they need to in order to rule against us. The courts are no more honest than the politicians, and they have proven they are no more likely to help us than the politicians. I wish I were very wrong about that. But all I can hope for is a surprise, and I do hope for that. You have to keep trying even up against no hope, because there is little else you can do.

      • Mike

        I think the courts are less apt to lie, if solid data is introduced as evidence. We have not given the politicians and public figures any cover. We have got to get the word out by any means necessary, of the facts, including how overblown as well as ineffective the registry is now. There have got to be news stories, 60 Minutes, DAteline, Full Measure, etc. I remember seeing John Walsh on the steps of the TX Capitol when the TX version of Jessica’s law was up for a vote as he said something like, “We all know of the very high rate of recidivism for these guys.” That is not a fact, and there is not enough information out that any person would question it. I think we should start a letter campaign to the networks that it is their obligation to report the facts on an issue that unfairly and unnecessarily affects nearly a million Americans. We need to raise memberships, and raise money for legal challenges and a PR campaign.

        • Margaret Moon

          Respectfully, Mike, I disagree. There is plenty of evidence “out.” The legislators and the media just ignore it because it does not further or support their agenda. You are, however, absolutely correct in that we need to raise memberships and money for legal challenges. Lets ALL work on that.

        • Derek W Logue of OnceFallen.com

          You are forgetting one thing. The courts are also swayed by public opinion more than on evidence and the US Constitution. They also use anecdotes to justify this bad public policy. SCOTUS isn’t supposed to be swayed by public opinion but it is. Just look at the Kennedy v Louisiana decision (on death penalty for sex offenses against minors where murder was not involved). Their opinion, in part, was based on the assumption of a general consensus that these crimes don’t warrant a death sentence because only a handful of states had a death penalty statute on the books.

          Quite frankly, I don’t expect the courts to be the endgame for these laws, especially with John “Price Club” Roberts as chief injustice of SCOTUS.

          Our approach has to attack on all levels. Courts are only one aspect. We still need to go after legislators and the media as well. We aren’t really going after the media that much.

        • David Kennerly

          Mike, I think we have to make more “scenes” than we do, at present. That is the only way major media will pay attention. They are completely unmotivated by facts or cogent arguments.

          We should be studying the tactics of disenfranchised groups who went before us and who always acted en masse.

          So, we need much more cohesion, we need to be able to identify and contact one another, we need organization and we need leaders as well as followers with the requisite courage to get both in front of the cameras and in the faces of our detractors and we need civil disobedience.

          Passivity will never succeed in this fight. No struggle ever succeeded without energy and direction and a willingness to take risks.

        • JDub

          I agree, we (registered citizens, families, victims, and supporters) need more cohesion… We need organization… We need AN ORGANIZTION – local, state, and national, in which we can become “registered members” … a legally documented entity in which we are all on the same page and driven by the same mission… political, legal, and social. As David stated: “No struggle ever succeeded without energy and direction…” Since I am a registered citizen in California, I would like to see CA RSOL open itself to “membership”; a commitment from all those whom CA RSOL represents. Membership rolls are a start. We are the numbers and statistics that the courts and legislators are using to support and push their agendas and decisions. Let us be our own numbers and statistics to support and push our agenda… I would like to see RSOL become more public… Legislators – Courts – Public… all three fronts must be addressed at the same time. Where is our million-man march?

        • Harry

          I agree, I am sure there are RC’s on board, already, from most regions of CA to start Locals.

        • Timmr

          What region are you from? A regional captain can initiate campaigns to fight RSO laws and ordinances in his or her area, and help collaborate with others across the state and nation for broader campaigns like IML. We have contact lists that are just waiting for someone to use responsibly. Let’s use the lists that enable vigilantes, but instead of targeting registrants to harm them, target registrants to empower them. I think the grass roots approach is the way, since it can done cheaply as long as a reliable and timely system of communication is developed.

        • Julia

          This organization is a great model for the organization you’re describing: http://www.results.org/skills_center/advocacy_how_tos. Granted, they’re advocating for poverty reduction, a much easier sell, but they very effectively organize and train citizens to advocate about specific issues. Their website is useful because it thoroughly describes how they train new activists and advocates.

        • Timmr

          It is also a willingness to do simple tasks, that may not be exciting in and of themselves, but are necessary to build a base of support. We have most of the addressees of registrants around the bay area, we could use help finding phone numbers and more to make the phone calls to registrants to ask them to attend this IML event in particular, to CaRsol meetings in general.
          David is right, facts do not get people to notice or act, unless the facts illicit some type of emotion, fear, joy, anger, surprise, wonder. Real bodies putting themselves out there is how you get things rolling. That is what other disadvantaged groups have done. Someone puts themselves out there. Its has happened and is happening now.

      • Erwin

        I have to totally disagree. Courts only uphold or deny the status quo. Politicians create the status quo thru laws.

        Courts have actually been at the forefront of overturning residency ordinance restrictions from California, Pennsylvania to New York. Politicians create the restrictions in the first place. Arizona is a perfect example. Level 1 offenders were never listed on the public website until some politician along with a victim’s rights advocate pushed thru a bill last month that made it possible to list all offenders. A similar thing happened in Nevada. You can find many many instances of politicians pushing their agendas to make it harder for RSOs.

        However, Washington State was one of those rare examples where the courts made it worst by overturning precedence. Level 1 offenders were never listed on the public registry but a court upheld the right of private citizen to have access to disclose that information to the public

        • David Kennerly

          Yes, courts are our best shot at unjust laws and, when they fail in their duties, then we need to step in and demand that they perform them. This will entail us “showing up” to be counted.

          Speaking of which, we have a rally scheduled for July 27 at the Federal Courthouse in Oakland hearing the motion to dismiss for IML. How many can we get to attend?

  2. Harry

    From the horse’s mouth, however, what is he really doing about the lie, except make more money on it, because of the work he is in?

  3. JDub

    One thing about attending CA RSOL meetings is you get the opportunity to meet some of the people on the front lines, fighting the fight… and ask them point blank, the questions we all blog about, and the articles we read… Specifically, I had the opportunity to actually meet and talk with Ira Ellman at the May 14, 2016 Berkeley CA RSOL meeting. What he says in this article is what he shared with me, but I had the chance to “hear” his words.

    “But if the Supreme Court was wrong, there are no easy remedies. Ellman thinks a raft of new lawsuits attacking the worst elements of registries could build a foundation for a case that eventually overturns the 2003 decision. ‘Trying to get legislatures to fix these things is almost hopeless,’ he says. ‘But trying to get courts to fix them is less hopeless because courts have to provide a rational, reasoned explanation of their decisions.’”

    While the article paints a gloom and doom picture, Ira remains optimistic… so much so that his is looking for plaintiffs to attack the “worst elements of registries”, which in turn “could build a foundation for a case that eventually overturns the 2003 decision”. With people like Ira preparing to do battle in the courts, and people like Janice taking the fight to the state legislators, and all of us “PUSHING BACK”, sooner or later a “Tipping Point” will occur and the pendulum will slowly begin to swing in the opposite direction. Just as when I was incarcerated for well over two decades, I held the position… the philosophy that “they” may have my body, but I refuse to give them my mind and my soul! I am encouraged by what is coming to light everyday… no matter how small or insignificant it may seem, or how high the mountain may be.

    • anonymously

      J-Dub quotes Ira Ellman “”“But if the Supreme Court was wrong, there are no easy remedies. Ellman thinks a raft of new lawsuits attacking the worst elements of registries could build a foundation for a case that eventually overturns the 2003 decision. ‘Trying to get legislatures to fix these things is almost hopeless,’ he says. ‘But trying to get courts to fix them is less hopeless because courts have to provide a rational, reasoned explanation of their decisions.’””

      Maybe also to look at the dissenting opinions in the non-unanimous cases such as Smith v Doe. What did Ginsburg , Breyer and Stevens think and reason in their dissent. Since they were not the majority, it’s not mandatory authority, but it’s persuasive authority, and earlier dissenting opinions can find their way into future opinions and/or nuances of current policy.

  4. Timmr

    The very casual acceptance of being able to apply new laws to someone who had completed the mandated sentence, simply for belonging to a group with a certain recidivism rate, whether it is high or low, is objectionable in itself. I can see using recidivism rates for gauging the effectiveness of certain treatment options, social programs, or for assessing the effectiveness of punishments as a deterrent, but where does it say in the Constitution that the right to not be subject to more government actions restricting your freedoms is waived because of some statistics of the group you are classed with? With what other crime type does that apply?

  5. brunello

    Not mentioned yet in any of this is one factor affecting measured rates: the steady growth in the number of crimes deemed sexual.

  6. Mike r

    there is supposed to be a nexus between a crime and the regulation restriction or prohibition then it is supposed to be as narrowly tailored to be the least infringement on the constitutional rights. these laws also have to be rational and effective and not just arbitrarily applied in a blanket fashion.these laws and all the others such as a blanket application of no firearms and the application of the IML are all unreasonable,arbitrary,and oppressive official actions and god I hope someone challenges these laws on that issue. just thinkbthe CA supreme Court ruled unanimously that residency restrictions were unconstitutional and the same argument holds true for the entire registration scheme. the court would basically have to overrule that unanimous decision in order to justify and rule in favor of the registration scheme.it’s a no brainer and the court gave us the a silver bullet in that decision if only someone who has the resources and intelligence would use it.

  7. Anon

    Dream big or go home. We have a big problem that’s based on a little bit of truth wrapped in a giant vat of BS. To get rid of the BS, we first have to imagine a way to drain it away.

  8. Lake County

    I think that instead of us trying to prove to SCOTUS that their original decision (that the registry is not ex post facto punishment) in Smith v. Doe was wrong, we instead need to show SCOTUS that the registry has now changed so much since those decisions that it should “now” be considered punishment. Getting them to admit they were wrong in Smith v. Doe is not going to happen (even if we prove the evidence given to them at the time was faulty). We need to be able to show SCOTUS how the public internet disclosure now causes all registered citizens many types of harms including the high risk of vigilantes using the public disclosure to cause physical injury and death.

    • New Person

      That’s why the following was quoted:

      “Trying to get legislatures to fix these things is almost hopeless,’ he says. ‘But trying to get courts to fix them is less hopeless because courts have to provide a rational, reasoned explanation of their decisions.’”

      This is what Janice and many others across the country are trying to do. Attack the worst aspects of the ever growing laws that are wrong and unconstitutional. In California alone, the presence restrictions have been lifted as well as protecting first amendment rights pertaining to the internet.

      Janice and all have a long game. They’ve already proven they can win. They are gonna have to win more of these battles in order to change the tides of war… war on drugs… war on registrants.

  9. Anonymous

    The largest problem when dealing with this issue is legal jargon and opportunistic politicians.

    Judges will use legal definitions set by past precedent to help define a word in current context. Take for example the first ruling that the registry and its laws cannot be defined as punishment.

    This has opened the floodgates for opportunistic politicians to pass any and all enhancements to it because it has already been defined.

    What really needs to take place is a reassessment of the definition of the registry as punishment or not using the current scope of the law, not relying on what the registry looked like when it was originally ruled as not punishment.

    The bottom line is this: The registry today is so different than what it was when originally ruled as non-punishment that the original definition no longer accurately represents the topic.

  10. Louis

    As long as there is a separate standard for a subclass of offender, the courts and the legislatures will not significantly change their position. Period.

    Until the entire picture is presented and attention is given to the risk non-sex related convicts pose to individuals and the danger to society regarding potential for victimizing sexually, there will be no significant change in laws.

    The way it is, there are too many opportunities for people to make a political name for themselves and for them to perpetuate hate toward the lessor risk offender and to be applauded for it. That’s just the way it is.

    Take on the task of presenting the bigger risk to individuals and you might get the attention of those making the decisions and passing the laws.

    Of course, that’s just my opinion.

  11. Ralph

    I swear the longer I fall under these laws the more I am starting to hate the country I live in. (This is coming from someone who actually served in the military). I’m listed as a Tier III registrant where I’ve always made sure to do everything on time. Since release from prison, I was never placed on any time of probation or parole. I went to school and received a Bachelors degree in Computer Science and was forced to leave the state I was living in because that state (Indiana) actually has a map that has a picture above the job where you work! Needless to say people looking at the map call the businesses to complain and then the person is fired (Indiana is an “at will” state). I am also married now and have 5 children (step and biological) for whom I work hard everyday in my new state at a fairly decent job, though I always wonder if the next day I will go to work only to be let go because of being on the registry. The biggest insult is due to being a tier III registrant, theres no way to lower the tier or even get off. I’ve been out for 10 years now and have done nothing but good things yet somehow I’m still a very dangerous person?! If I knew of a country in Europe that I had a chance of working in, my wife and I would quickly move our family out of this hateful country.

  12. tom

    Registry laws must meet the ‘compelling government interest’ test. They’ve been passed on that basis, but never challenged as to how they meet the criteria.
    .Supreme Court has identified the right to vote, the right to travel, and the right to privacy as fundamental rights worthy of protection by strict scrutiny.
    If strict scrutiny was applied to ‘registry laws’ they should fail because there are no statistics to back them up; and in fact, actual statistics will show extremely low recidivism rates.
    Registry laws are clear Bill of Attainder since they are not applied to other ‘classes’ of criminals.
    Freedom to travel was a right specifically protected in the Articles of Confederation which is STILL considered part of US law. ( Organic laws of the United States ) It was left out of the Constitution because it was considered an inalienable right.
    Ex Post Facto laws were NOT strictly only designed for criminal law, but were considered to also apply to civil law. (Federalist Papers 44, & 84) Calder v. Bull did NOT expressly allow ex post facto to apply ONLY to criminal cases.

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