Family Members of Registered Sex Offenders Call on Parents for Megan’s Law to remove misleading statistics from their website
Long Island - USA FAIR, Inc., a national advocacy organization formed by the family members of people required to register with the sex offender registry, today publicly urged Parents for Megan’s Law Executive Director Laura Ahern to take down misleading statistics from their website that reinforces the myth of high sex offender recidivism.
“According to the U.S. Justice Department and numerous other agencies and institutions that have researched recidivism (PDF), sexual offenders have one of the lowest recidivism rates in the criminal justice system. Yet, the myth of high sex offender recidivism has formed the foundational falsehood for the never-endng sanctions imposed on law abiding former offenders through the sex offender registry”, said Shana Rowan, Executive Director of USA FAIR.
“While we applaud Parents for Megan’s Law for their mission to protect children, as an entity that is funded in part with public funds, they have an obligation to not mislead the public through the misuse of statistics, such as presenting a study of a sub-set of dangerous recidivists and presenting those findings as representative of the entire population of former sex offenders,” said Rowan.
In a letter sent to Parents for Megan’s Law (PDF) on December 6, 2012, USA FAIR raised objections to statements made on their website, including claims that the “typical” offender against children had committed an average of 280 crimes and has between 360 and 380 victims in his lifetime. USA FAIR pointed out that the sample of this study was not “typical” of former offenders and that even among this subset of high-risk offenders, a small percentage of the subjects were responsible for a disproportionately high number of offenses, which significantly skewed the “average” numbers. In fact, according to Rowan, “When you look at the median numbers of this very study it reveals that half of the subjects committed four or fewer offenses and had three or fewer victims. So even the “typical” subject of this study did not have the number of victims that Parents for Megan’s Law claims. And while three victims is three too many, it is a far cry from the 360 to 380 that their website presents.”
Rowan announced that USA FAIR decided today to go public with its request to Parents for Megan’s Law to correct their website because following several phone calls and emails by Rowan to Ahern to follow-up on the December 6th letter, there has been no response. “Ms. Ahern has every right to disagree with USA FAIR on policy issues, but as long as she takes public money she should present this important issue with facts and not false fears,” said Rowan.
USA FAIR has made shining the light on the myth of high sex offender recidivism one of its top goals for 2013. A 2010 survey by the Center for Sex Offender Management of the U.S. Department of Justice found that 72% of Americans believe that the sex crime recidivism rates are 50% or higher, with a third believing it is more than 75%. Only 3% believe it is less than 25% – even though actual recidivism rates are considerably below 25%. New studies are constantly confirming low recidivism, with the latest being released last month showing a recidivism rate in four states of 10% after 10 years, with rates dropping sharply with years of offense-free tenure in the community. (https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/240099.pdf)
“As the loved-ones of people who are required to register, we know that the vast majority of former sex offenders are law abiding citizens today who are just trying to rebuild their lives and be good providers for their families. Once the myth of high sex offender recidivim is firmly dicredited, it will allow us to end our one-size-fits-all approach to sex offender laws and focus our policies on targeting the truly dangerous,” concluded Rowan.