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A Q&A on Megan’s Law: Should it apply to child offenders?

Dr. Elizabeth J. Letourneau did the first study looking at the consequences of Megan’s Law on juveniles. She found that kids rarely commit a second offense, and that the people they are most likely to hurt are themselves. She spoke with Julie O’Connor of the Star-Ledger’s editorial board. Below is an edited transcript. Full ArticleFull Article

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  1. Bill

    “Adults reoffend at a rate of 18 percent.”

    Where did these numbers come up? Is that for rape? Is that for CP offenses? Is that for public urination?

    Or is that ALL sexual crimes?

    The data that comes out in these news articles about reoffending are all over the place.

    There needs to be accountability for accurate reporting.

    • Dustin

      That 18% likely includes registry and technical parole/probation violations. Remove those and it’ll come down to around 3-5%.

    • Facts should matter

      NJ.com has always been biased and pro-registry because of the proximity of the Kanka fiasco. The 18 percent “statistic” sounds like something they pulled out of thin air, if not their collective butts. Anything to keep the lie going and you will never see a headline like: “All sex offenders are less dangerous than previously thought” from them in this lifetime or any other.

  2. Mike G

    “Sex offender notification was supposed to be a policy that reduces the likelihood of child sexual abuse. But it is associated with an increased likelihood of child sexual abuse. You couldn’t have a worse outcome.”

    Totally agree.

    “There are only two ways that registry policies could have a positive effect on public safety – by reducing recidivism or reducing first-time sex crimes. They do not do either, based on data from thousands of cases in half a dozen states.”

    Totally agree!

    “Adults reoffend at a rate of about 18%”

    Really? I would like to know what study that came from.

  3. JM from wi

    Elizabeth J. Letourneau, PhD is a co-author on numerous studies on juvenile sex offence, sex offence recidivism and the effects of the registration on recidivism rates. I wonder if it was her, or the Star ‘s editing that caused the 18% recidivism figure. Her study below cites 5%

    https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0887403409353148
    “Across a mean follow-up of 8.4 years, 490 (8%) offenders had new sex crime charges and 299 (5%) offenders had new sex crime convictions

    Her article : Once a Sexual Offender, Not Always a Sexual Offender below said “This effect was found for all age groups and all initial risk levels”.
    https://jhu.pure.elsevier.com/en/publications/reductions-in-risk-based-on-time-offense-free-in-the-community-on

    To champion a cause is one thing. To use false info to champion a cause (especially if it is for $ or personal gain) is at best questionable. While both RK Hanson and Letourneau have helped our cause, they both make a fine living at it. Could you imagine if Hanson made a commission for every time the static 99 or 99-R was implemented?

    • Will Allen

      Keep in mind as well that a person who is listed on the Registries will be ACCUSED of $EX crimes far more than just any person in the general public will. And they will be convicted with no evidence at a much higher rate. So those recidivism figures are probably inflated as well. Although I’m not sure anyone wants low recidivism figures because all that shows is that Registries are “working”.

      • jm from wi

        Elizabeth J. Letourneau, has publications showing data which reflects recidivism rates are not decreased by the registry. Therefore, low figures should be good. So many variables…
        Obviously some “scientists/researchers” who have a hypothesis may find or sometimes create data to fit their theories.

      • The Vampire

        Will you need to back off no one is pleased with your dumb hate! Have some fate!

        • R M

          I believe Will has just as much right to post here as you and I do Vampire.

  4. Bill

    @Will Allen

    It depends on how the low recidivism data is framed or narrated that will determine if the Registry is working or not.

    For example, when you juxtapose the amount of sexual assaults on children by people NOT on the Registry with the low recidivism rate of Registrants then the NARRATIVE shows that the Registry doesn’t work.

    • Dustin

      I think a better way to determine the regitry’s (in)effectiveness would be to compare sex crime rates before and after ML was implemented. Several current studies show no difference, and a few even blatantly attempt to fudge the stats to support the claim that it “works.” For example, claiming registrants are 4 times more likely to commit a sex offense after release than other, non-sex related felons. May sound alarming on its face, but doesn’t change that 95% plus of new sex crime is committed by those not registered.

      If I remember right, a pre-ML DOJ study showed that most sex crime was committed by those with no priors at all, sexual or otherwise, as well as an almost nonexistent sexual recidivism rate. I don’t recall where I saw that study – over at SOSEN, maybe.

    • Will Allen

      Guess who is going to frame and narrate the results? It is not going to be anti-Registry people since most Registered People (RP) don’t care enough about being listed to speak out. Most RPs just accept whatever the criminal regimes do to them.

      But anyway, I’m not sure what you are saying. Seeing a low recidivism rate ONLY for right now does not prove anything. If we see that 1,000 children are molested and say 30 of those were molested by an RP, are you saying that alone looks good for RPs? Because it doesn’t. A Registry Nazi/Terrorist will simply say, “See, the Registries are working. If we didn’t have Registries then there would have been 2,000 children molested and RPs would have molested 1,030 of them. The Registries saved 1,000 children.”

      So the only thing that matters is what the recidivism rate was before the Registries, compared to after. And the rate doesn’t really matter. What would it mean if the recidivism rate was 80% before the Registries and 85% after? It would mean the rate is “frightening and high”. Would that indicate in any way that Registries should exist?

      What the criminal regimes did is say the rate is “frightening and high” so let’s do something thoroughly wasteful and idiotic that makes it all worse. And that’s what they did. If you want to make a problem worse, get big government involved. I saw a funny government poster once that said something like, “If you think our problems are bad, wait until you see our solutions.” Criminal big government full of harassing little idiots.

      • AJ

        @Will Allen:
        “So the only thing that matters is what the recidivism rate was before the Registries, compared to after.”
        —–
        Not so. What also matters, and better points to the futility of registries, is the incidence of sex offenses. If the crime rate for sex offenses hasn’t measurably changed since the implementation of registry laws, then clearly said laws are ineffective, regardless of recidivism rates. IIRC, there are studies showing no statistical change in either sex-offense incidence OR recidivism since registries were created. This may be one of the stronger legal arguments against them: they don’t achieve the stated goals. Or simply put, they don’t do a damned thing to benefit public safety. Even with rational-basis review, this matters.

        • Will Allen

          Yes, if Registries did affect the overall number of $EX crimes being committed (by anyone), then that would certainly matter. And I think most studies that I have seen actually do mention that, but barely. I expect because there has been no significant effect, the Registries weren’t really created for THAT, the Registries should NOT be expected to affect THAT, and there are so many other much more causal and impactful factors that affect that number.

          It is true that most people rightly see the Registries as a punishment, like prison. The only question then is how does that possible punishment affect a person’s decision about whether or not to commit a $EX crime? We know that the minimum sentences (often mandatory) for a lot of these crimes is insanely high. I just can’t see a person ignoring that but worrying about MAYBE Registering 30 years in the future. We also know that the death penalty doesn’t affect crimes rates much. So again, I don’t think Registries do.

          Another way Registries could affect the overall number is by changing public awareness and actions relative to $EX crimes. Maybe they do some of that. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone try to address that. And surely there are much more effective ways to do that instead of Registries and lying propaganda campaigns.

          The big lie of the Registries is that they were “needed” so that people could be “informed”. The point of the Registries is to “monitor” and “control” the people who are listed, not other people. That is why the criminal regimes lie all the time about how they are “keeping an eye on the monsters” and do stupid nonsense like Halloween checks. To keep the listed people who cannot control themselves from inevitably committing $EX crimes. And “informing” does make “common sense”. It just doesn’t work in any useful way.

          Just throwing some numbers out, I’d guess if the recidivism rate was say 80% before the Registries and then 60% after the Registries, then even then though that would be a huge difference in the number of victims, that Registries would STILL not be smart. Simply because:

          1. I’m certain there are much better and easier ways to cut the recidivism rate in half (compared to worthless Registries).

          2. Registries certainly increase crime overall. (I’m talking about real crimes, not the fake, made-up Registration “crimes”, of course)

          3. Registries cause widespread other harm and hate. I think a lot more than most people would believe. That actually matters.

        • AJ

          @Will Allen:
          “Another way Registries could affect the overall number is by changing public awareness and actions relative to $EX crimes. Maybe they do some of that.”
          —–
          Again, the fact that the offense rates have remained fairly constant indicates that even changing public awareness doesn’t have any impact. If the offense rates aren’t changing, then everything that’s currently being done is ineffective. We have years of data before registries and years of data after registries. If the numbers remain effectively the same over this huge span–I’m talking longer than NJ’s excellent 21-year study–then current laws and actions don’t work. Period. One can surmise they’d be higher if there were no laws, as our foes are wont to do, but I could just as easily surmise they’d be lower, as some data have tended to indicate (even the 6th CCoA noted that).
          =====

          And “informing” does make “common sense”. It just doesn’t work in any useful way.
          —–
          Exactly, and the wiser courts (PA, 6th CCoA) realized that. The belief about the laws is contrary to the facts, as we all know. It doesn’t work in any useless way, either. 😛

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