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Legal Issues and Court Cases:
                           affecting sex offenders
Hi Folks, how are you today?
It is our intent to create a respectful environment for understanding and healing, a Discussion-Safety-Zone for Related Topics, while maintaining our Visitors' Zones-of-Privacy, and to interact on a non-judgmental basis. Today far too many communities fail to create these safety-zones!

1-2004 Commentary: "Fear, as a tactic,"
Keeps Former Sex Offenders and Their Families,
as Political Detainees under Megans' Laws

Current Department of Justice statistics show 96+% of all new sex offenses are committed by someone other than a previously convicted sex offender. [10] Yet, legislatures focus on monitoring and control of former sex offenders (now registered sex offenders [RSOs]). Why? It gets votes, sounds good, and makes the public feel safe. Sounds good -feels good- legislation!


Department of Justice studies, and other research, that is regularly ignored by Legislatures, Courts, and the Media.

»DECLINE IN CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE-2001 January:
The Decline in Child Sexual Abuse Cases. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Programs: Special Report, Lisa Jones and David Finkelhor (January 2001). Finkelhor criticized Catholic Church for failing to recognize this decline in their March 2004 report.
»RECIDIVISM-2003 November:
Recidivism of sex offenders released in 1994. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report, Langan, P. A., & Levin, D. J. (November 2003).

»RECIDIVISM-2002 June:
Recidivism of prisoners released in 1994. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report, Langan, P. A., & Levin, D. J. (June 2002).

» RECIDIVISM-2003 June:
Solicitor General Canada Releases Study on the Reconviction Rate of Federal Offenders: Showing Past Studies Are Wrong, and Sex Offender Recidivism Rates ARE VERY LOW!
Sex Offender Community Notification, by Peter Finn, February 1997

Sex Offender Community Notification: Assessing the Impact in Wisconsin, by Richard G. Zevitz and Mary Ann Farkas, December 2000

Community Notification in Washington State: 1996 Survey of Law Enforcement, by Scott Matson & Rozanne Lieb, November 1996

Revisiting Megan's Law and Sex Offender Registration: Prevention or Problem, by Robert E. Freeman-Longo, MRC, LPC, 2000

State Sex Offender Treatment Programs: a 50 State Survey (495 pg PDF file), by the State of Colorado, Department of Corrections, in the year 2000. The report shows that Cognitive Behavior Therapy is the most effective way to prevent recidivism.
Recidivism, theory -or- statistics:
The first Megans' law was based upon the "theory of recidivism" and not on "actual recidivism statistics."[11] In other words, there never was any proof of mass sex offender recidivism (as a class) before enacting that 1994 law in New Jersey; three (3) terrible crimes were the basis. Other states have simply followed New Jersey's lead, and all have ignored actual recidivism statistics.

In fact, in November of 2003, the Department of Justice calculated the actual sex offender recidivism rate using 1994 statistical figures (Megan's law era), results showed a small 3.5% of sex offenders released from prison commit another sex offense; other crimes types are 3-10 times that rate and are ignored, even when they affect children. [12]

Unrealistic recidivism fears:
Political figures publicly and using the media -who add their own media-bashing slant-, have so infected society with "unrealistic recidivism fears," that RSOs have lost their societal identity and community status, and are relegated to being a categorical group of political detainees.

No other offender group is so categorized or tainted by "unrealistic recidivism fears" nor ostracized as are RSOs, under the pretext of public safety! Legislatures focus on this -minute group- while ignoring the 96+% of the real offenders that are committing new sex offenses.

Political co-mingling of issues:
The political and media co-mingling of issues of the "96+% and the RSOs" keeps the public hysterical and constantly fired up, so they -FEAR- some immediate threat! It blinds the public from seeing where legislation should be directed!

Legislators, frustrated with real victims plight, and the seemingly unsolvable issues of the 96+%, legislate with a vengeance directed at RSOs. Their silent legislative voice is, punish the RSOs (an identifiable group) for newly committed crimes of the 96+% (an unidentifiable group), and the public legislative voice is -public safety (a pretext) not punishment-! Misguided and misdirected legislation!

RSOs (and their Circle of Associations) live a unjustified life of denials of societal opportunities, harassment, vigilatism, SUBTLE vigilantisms, and hatreds, and following the legislative voice a blind hysterical society directs its vengeance also at all RSOs! [13]

Proofs of Offenders' Plight:
Courts have never seen these reports of denials, harassment and vigilante acts (See sidebar for list). Legislatures refuse to acknowledge these reports even when brought to their attention.

US Supreme Court Accepts Therapy:
First in KANSAS v. HENDRICKS then in McKUNE, WARDEN, et al. v. LILE , and their progeny, the US Supreme court held that sex offender therapy is the method by which states rehabilitate sex offenders. All civil commitment schemes, commitment following sentences, would have been declared unconstitutional as further punishment, if states did not provide therapy for sex offenders. Therapy rehabilitates sex offenders!

Legislatures have too long ignored the effects of "prison sex offender therapy programs." The Colorado Department of Corrections in 2000, and, more recently (2004) a federal judge in the Iowa Residency Law case (13 pgs discussing therapy and society), and in 2003 recidivism studies by the Department of Justice, and Canada showing similar rates, all prove therapy works! The effects being one of the lowest recidivism rates of all offenders 3.5% as to a new sex offense. Statistics clearly prove the "High Recidivism" is false, and legislatures refuse to correct their errors!

Until legislatures admit error, "Fear, as a tactic," keeps former Sex Offenders (now RSOs) and their families as -Political Detainees- under Megans' Laws! Who will be next?

eAdvocate
Footnotes:
10: "96% of new sex offenses is a calculated figure" by tieing victim reports with DoJ recidivism study: In 1994 victims reported 432,750 incidents. In 1994 3.5% of sex offender released from prison committed another sex offense (recidivated). Accordingly, (100% - 3.5% = 96.5%) 96.5% of 432,750 = 417,603 committed by someone other than a previously convicted sex offender.

The Department of Justice Reports (Released in 2003):
A)
Criminal Victimization in The United States, 1994: shows 432,750 reported Rape/Sexual Assault incidents for 1994, as reported by victims;
B) Recidivism of Sex Offenders Released from Prison in 1994: reported, 3.5% of sex offenders (those who previously committed a rape or sexual assault) were RECONVICTED for another sex crime, within 3 years, following their release.
11: What was the legislative basis for enacting Megan's Law: The theory of recidivism -or- actual recidivism statistics? LICASSO June 2004

12:See sidebar Recidivism - 2003 November; and Canada's similar results Recidivism - 2003 June

13: See sidebar Finn 1997; Zevitz & Farkas 2000; Freeman-Longo 2000.

Copyright 2004 LAMP.




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