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Registration systems, have been around for a long time in various forms, some of us use registration systems daily. However, there is one type of registration, new to our era,
--Sex Offender Registration--,
this is our focus.
Our research was too large for one page, THIS IS THE -OVERVIEW-
Each block below, permits you access to one of the four sections.
Legislatures say, our findings are that, sex offender registration is needed because sex offenders have a high rate of recidivism. Legislatures have not published what statistics they have based their findings on. The Department of Justice has explained there are several ways statistics are compiled, but legislatures fail to tell the public what method they relied upon.
The legislative findings are contrary to what the Department of Justice in 2003 reports, that sex offender recidivism is 3.5%!
The legislative findings are also contrary to what the Canadian Recidivism Study in 2003 reported, their sex offender recidivism is .7% to 1.7%!
So why are we hearing reports of high recidivism? What we learned during our research should open the eyes of legislatures and courts worldwide!.
What do legislatures claim is the basis for Sex Offender Registration Laws??
High Recidivism Rates of sex offenders!
In 1994 there was a singular high profile sex crime, committed by a previously convicted sex offender. Recidivism! A like-type-crime, a sex offense following a previous sex offense! That is what comes to mind whenever the word recidivism is used in relationship to a sex offender. Committing another sex offense!
Truthfully, that is what sex offender recidivism should mean, however, that is not the meaning when speakers, the media, politicians, and professionals quote sex offender recidivism rates! The meaning is altered by the process that created the recidivism statistic! Most folks never realize this, and often speakers don't realize it either.
Researchers and statisticians have a purpose for creating a statistic, and choose a process suitable for their purpose. However, suitable for research does not automatically translate into a statistic that is understood by the community at large (the average person).
Sex offender recidivism statistics require "Disclosure Statements." Like labels on cans of food disclose the contents in detail, 12% of this and 28% of that, etc. Without this disclosure statement, sex offender recidivism statistics incite unnecessary fears in the community!
Throughout history communities have been "fear stricken" based upon race, nationality, religion, disability, and many other factors. Yet, those fears disappeared when that community got to know the person they initially feared. Fears are dispelled when placed into proper perspective, and when there is knowledge and understanding.
Our research is effectively, the "Disclosure Statement" that no one tells you about. We explain the statistics you are hearing about, putting them into a proper perspective, and give you the knowledge needed to understand and question what you hear spoken so broadly.
Report are, sex offenders have high rates of recidivism (without explanation)! We asked, if high, are they high because of "committing another sex offense," or are they high because of "the process that creates the statistic?" In other words, could there be something inherent in the process that could cause the final statistic to be high, and if high, is that normal for that process? Are reported recidivism rates for sex offenders really high, or is the truth being masked by the process creating the statistic?
Courts have reviewed a few of these statistical systems, in general. However, in the legal community, if a system is in general use, then it is an accepted scientific practice, and therefore admissible in court. Hence, whatever result is provided by the system (i.e., recidivism rates, result warrants commitment, or likelihood of re-offense [low-medium-high], etc.), courts accept it without question. (Ex: Nov 2001:Arizona Court of Appeals; Dec 2002: Illinois Court of Appeals; Oct 2002 Case-1: Oct 2002 Case-2: Iowa Court of Appeals.)
Beyond our research is a general belief that, many sex offenses go unreported which stems from separate victim studies. Here we are not saying these beliefs are incorrect or correct, but that belief has made it virtually impossible to get courts or legislatures to review the problems with the process of generating statistics! We will be reviewing and identifying the problems with the process only.
No court has ever reviewed the process of how a system creates a statistic, to see if the system's result could be artifically high and create a false impression! That is the precise reason why, reported sex offender recidivism rates are high. Courts and legislatures have made decisions and enacted laws based upon these false impressions.
"The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on Earth,|
and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man,
but only have the law of nature for his rule." --Samuel Adams.
"The most dangerous untruths are truths slightly distorted."
- Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742–1799), physicist, philosopher.
We are going to review sex offender recidivism statistics generated by
the Criminal Justice System (CJS) and the Mental Health System (MHS) individually.
The purpose and process by which each compiles "Recidivism Statistics" requires distinguishing between the two. So far legislatures and court systems have failed to recognize these distinguishing differences, and this has resulted in a misapplication of, and improper reliance on, reported sex offender recidivism statistics.
Our research revealed each of the systems, CJS system and the MHS system, has inherent problems and idiosyncrasies in the process of calculating recidivism statistics, which causes the recidivism rates to be artificially high. This damages the community and the offenders in society!
*** Summarizing the Problem ***|
"UNDERSTANDING RECIDIVISM STATISTICS"
In each of the systems that generate recidivism statistics (CJS & MHS)we identified the problems, shortcomings and idiosyncrasies. Here is a short summarizing example of what is happening:
For our summary we use the UPDATED 2004 Michigan Recidivism Statistics Chart (which averages 11 years of statistics). We copied from that Chart:
Sex Offenders Paroled
Returned Same Offense
Returned Different Offense
Now, sum it up: 117+174=291 that being the total number of offenders who returned to prison with a new conviction (offense). But this time, lets calculate with respect to number of sex offenders "Returned with New Convictions."
Sex Offenders Returned with New Convictions
Returned Same Offense
Returned Different Offense
Notice how the percentage for "Returned for Same Offense (i.e., true recidivism)," changes dramatically, one way 2.46%, the other way 40.2%.
Which is correct? When speaking of "sex offender recidivism [new victims]," you start with sex offenders paroled to society, and calculate percentages using, how many returned for new sex offenses (117 2.46% true sex offender recidivism).
When you calculate using the second method, you technically distort the truth. One has to be careful about how recidivism statistics were quoted:
"Of the 4,762 sex offenders paroled, 117 or 2.46% were returned for a new sex offense."
"Of the 291 sex offenders returned with new convictions, 117 or 40.2% were returned for a new sex offense."
NOTICE, the play on words making both statements true.
Today, the public is confused by 50 years of statistics. However, one thing is certain, sex offender recidivism rates are low (2.46%). That is when recidivism means committing the same type of offense, which is really what society should be concerned about, new sexual abuse victims!
In 1996, the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives published a report on "Community Notification and Setting the Record Straight on Recidivism," (towards end of their report) in which they addressed most all of the issues we have in our research, finding the same conclusions we have today in 2004!. Then in 1998, R. Karl Hanson, Corrections Research Department of the Solicitor General of Canada, in his "Predicting Relapse: A Meta-Analysis of Sexual Offender Recidivism Studies, also arrived at "Evidence from 61 follow-up studies was examined to identify the factors most strongly related to recidivism among sexual offenders. On average, the sexual offense recidivism rate was low (13.4%; n = 23,393). There were, however, subgroups of offenders who recidivated at high rates. ..." see Meta-Analysis.
It is time for Congress and State Legislatures to enact laws that require the truth be told about recidivism rates, and in a language and manner that is clear to all, no matter who generates the statistic. Standards are needed to reduce the, misleading information, that results in hysteria, caused by the absence of standards!
Courts, Legislatures and public officials need to stop, look, and listen, recognize their errors, correct the system of reporting, and stop enacting new laws based upon FALSE IMPRESSIONS which result in, offenders becoming the bad persons, AGAIN!
Finally, if "Risk Assessment Systems" are needed, that they be forced to go beyond the -Likelihood of Reoffense Factor- and ADD a -Community Concern Factor-, which could begin with information readily available.
Each of the following was enacted to address
Why not Truth-in-Recidivism Rates?