Friday, October 3, 2008

What is Perverted-Justice hiding?

View the article here

I think they are hiding shoddy chat transcripts, which they altered, and possibly child porn! Why didn't this person just get a warrant, and seize the computer, regardless of what PJ wanted?

10/03/2008

Recent reports from a number of major news media outlets have revealed yet another disturbing incident that serves to clearly highlight yet another area where the owner and "director of operations" of the cyber-vigilante group Perverted-Justice, Xavier Von Erck (formerly known as Phillip Eide), continues to display his utter contempt and disregard for our justice system, all the while claiming to be facilitating justice against those he and his cyber-vigilante group, Perverted-Justice.com, accuse of horrendous crimes.

During a hearing in Flagler Beach, Fla. on 25 Sept., 2008, defense attorneys revealed that Perverted-Justice refused to comply with a judge's order to allow an expert to examine its computer. (Further details regarding this latest incident can be found here.)

Perverted-Justice has always been vocal in its demands to law enforcement to immediately seize the computers of those they accuse in order to to "protect the evidence". Case and point - their extreme efforts to encourage the recently disgraced police chief in Murphy, Texas to send a swat team to the home of former District Attorney William Conradt as a result of their contention that he might be destroying evidence. Perverted-Justice's recommended approach in this case resulted in the self-inflicted death of the man they had accused. Apparently when it comes to offering up their own servers as evidence to corroborate their accusations, they are somewhat less enthusiastic.

This is not the first time that the vigilante group has failed to provide evidence when requested by the justice system. In a number of prior cases, important evidence requested by the courts from individual Perverted-Justice participants somehow ceased to exist prior to the trial date as a result of mysterious hard drive crashes, computer malfunctions and the refusals of some Perverted-Justice members to participate as witnesses or give up their home computers for forensic examination.

With the recent publicity surrounding a number of cases of self-described Internet vigilantes being arrested on charges of distributing child pornography, the public is becoming increasingly suspicious of the motives of many of those who appear to gain so much delight from pretending to be sexually promiscuous little girls on the Internet.

Since the group's inception, Corrupted-Justice has continuously railed against and done our best to publicize the fact that Perverted-Justice's methods were shady at best, and in many cases possibly illegal at worst. Countless suggestions have been made over the years by both disinterested 3rd-parties and knowledgeable, educated legal professionals and journalists that undoubtedly, many of the most ardent Perverted-Justice participants are very likely performing their "work" for the group with questionable motives themselves. Beyond the clearly publicized drug addiction issues, self-described mental instabilities and frightening psychological problems that many of their most active participants have publicly admitted to, rumors continue to dog a number of their members suggesting that rather than being in it to "protect the children", their motives could be somewhat less pristine and certainly more frightening to those of us with children.

The group's senior vigilante, Xavier Von Erck has been quoted countless times stating that his organization could always be counted on to cooperate fully with law enforcement and the justice system and that the "evidence" gathered through the vigilante group's on-line "sting" operations was above reproach. In light of yet another instance of their refusal or turn over evidence to the courts when ordered by a judge to do so, one cannot help but wonder exactly what the group is hiding.


AR - Sex Offender Sued for Slow Home Sales

View the article here

This is old, but shows the insanity! Hell, blame sex offenders for the war on terrorism, war on drugs, idiots in office... Might as well!  It would not surprise me if congress blamed the bail out and everything else on sex offenders as well.  Everyone needs their scapegoat!

02/07/2005

LITTLE ROCK - A developer who claims that home sales in a new subdivision stopped after a sex offender and his wife bought a home there has sued the couple and the real estate company that arranged the purchase.

The developer, NGI Rental, filed the $2 million lawsuit Friday against the sex offender, Randall Dee Collins, and his wife, as well as the real estate company.

Mr. Collins, 39, was convicted of molesting girls and is listed on the Arkansas Crime Information Center Web site. According to the lawsuit, his wife hired a real estate company to sell her old home, saying that she had married a sex offender and that her home was too close to a school. Arkansas sets limits on how near a school a sex offender may live.

A day after the couple bought a home in a subdivision in Springdale, in northwest Arkansas, the police distributed fliers about Mr. Collins.

The lawsuit claims that residents indicated they would move if Mr. Collins did not leave the neighborhood and that sales came to a standstill because the developer was required to tell potential buyers about him.

The lawsuit also says Mr. Collins called the developer and offered to move for $250,000 "or he would stay there and kill their subdivision."

A message left on a phone listed to a Randall Collins was not immediately returned.


CA - New law targets online harassment

View the article here

It's about time.  This needs to be done across the USA!  So jerks like Perverted-Justice, AbsoluteZeroUnited and others can be put into prison where they belong.

10/03/2008

It's now a crime to use the Internet to incite the harassment of someone.

The state legislation, which came in response to the case of a 17-year-old Danville resident whose photo and phone number were posted in an online personal ad without her permission, makes such acts illegal.

The bill, AB 919 by Assemblyman Guy Houston (Contact), R-San Ramon, was signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (Contact) on Monday. Keith Ochwat, Houston's capitol director, said there were already laws preventing direct harassment through electronic devices. But the new law targets those who may instigate others to victimize someone.

The new law makes inciting such acts a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

"Where we were seeing a hole was where one didn't directly harass someone," Ochwat said. The law goes into effect Jan. 1.

The Danville woman, Morgan Dillingham, now a 19-year-old St. Mary's College student, was 17 when someone placed her cell phone number and photograph on a craigslist.com personal ad seeking men for casual sex. The photos were taken from her MySpace.com page.
- Exactly the same stuff Perverted-Justice and AbsoluteZeroUnited does.

Dillingham said in the first hour after it was posted, she received text messages and 20 voice-mails on her phone. She turned off her phone and doesn't know how many calls she ultimately got. Some of the responses were lewd and disturbing. Danville police told her even though she knew it was posted by a former acquaintance, it was difficult to prosecute such acts.

"I hope this scares people to being responsible in their online usage," Dillingham said of the new law. She said her mom, Kathy Dillingham, traced the posting to the acquaintance, then 18, and that he also bragged about the act to friends. "We couldn't believe it; we were sort of shocked," Kathy Dillingham said after learning there was nothing police could do.
- I doubt it will scare anybody.  If they do not know of the law, then they will continue to do it!  This needs to be a federal law, then, once passed, broadcasted on all news organizations, so everyone is aware of the new law.

The Dillinghams' story was first publicized by the Times, with Houston later authoring the bill. The measure went through some hurdles after it was introduced in early 2007, including an Assembly committee that watered it down by deciding all such crimes should be a misdemeanor. The bill was also delayed a year after a Senate committee passed a policy against legislation that would add more inmates to the state's overcrowded prison system.
- Well, apparently none of those in legislature have been the victim of online harassment.  I personally think it should be a felony!

"It's a long process, but it does work," Morgan Dillingham said. "An individual can come forward and make a difference."

"California is always at the cutting edge of technological advancement," said Houston, a termed-out legislator whose 15th Assembly district seat is up for grabs next month, in a news release. "We need laws to keep up with the technology."

Reach Eric Louie at 925-847-2123 or elouie@bayareanewsgroup.com.


Palin: Raped Women must bear Child

I am pro-life as well. Abortion is murder, period! There is a ton of people out there, who would love to have a child!


NY - NYPD Lt. Michael Pigott, who ordered fatal tasering of naked man, left suicide note: It's my fault

View the article here
Related Article & Video

What a tragedy! This man did not have to kill himself!

10/02/2008

BY ALISON GENDAR, CHRISTINA BOYLE AND LARRY MCSHANE (DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS)

The NYPD lieutenant who gave the deadly order to Taser a naked Brooklyn man killed himself Thursday - leaving behind a heart-rending suicide note saying he did it to protect his kids, police sources said.

Emergency Service Unit Lt. Michael Pigott wrote that he put a bullet into his head over fears that his three children would see him in handcuffs or behind bars, the sources said.

He left the note, along with pictures of his wife and children, in a locker room at ESU headquarters in Brooklyn before pulling the trigger on his 46th birthday.

"He said he didn't want his kids to see him cuffed up and jailed," one source said. "It breaks your heart."

The note asked authorities not to blame the officer who fired the Taser. "Pigott - a real cop's cop - wrote that it was his judgment to use the Taser," a police source said. "He said it was his fault."

Last week, sources in the Brooklyn district attorney's office said criminal charges were unlikely in the death of Iman Morales, 35.

The emotionally disturbed man fell 10 feet to his death after he was Tasered on the ledge outside his apartment.

A police source said Pigott became unglued after one of his bosses advised him to keep a low profile because - although it was unlikely - he could face indictment.

An NYPD lieutenant reporting to work around 6 a.m. Thursday found Pigott's body near the note and photos, sources said. Pigott had the day off, but showed up at the facility sometime after 4 a.m., sources said.

He clipped the lock off another officer's locker, took out a 9mm handgun and killed himself at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, sources said.

"He was very distraught and upset about what had happened," a police source said. "He had gone to the department's medical services and been told to take a few days off to rest up. No one saw this coming. It is very tragic."

On Tuesday, Pigott told Newsday outside his Long Island home that he was sorry about the tragedy.
"I feel terrible about what happened to the man," he said.

The 21-year police veteran was stripped of his gun and badge and placed on desk duty after the fatal confrontation in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

Pigott was not scheduled to work at Floyd Bennett Field. Police sources said Pigott, a member of the elite ESU, possibly chose the location because of the access to weapons.

"On behalf of all the members of the New York City Police Department, I extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Lt. Michael W. Pigott, who served with dedication for 21 years," NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.

Police and witnesses said Pigott ordered Morales, 35, Tasered on Sept. 24 after the naked man used a long fluorescent light bulb to poke cops.

He was standing on the outside his Brooklyn apartment and fell to his death after Officer Nicholas Marchesona unleashed his stun gun.

About 20 of Morales' relatives, including his distraught mother, turned out in a Greenwich Village church Thursday for the slain man's funeral.

His aunt, Ann DeJesus Negron, was upset by the lieutenant's death.

"This is not something we wanted anyone else to go through," she said after the funeral. "This really disturbs the whole family."

The NYPD quickly admitted after the Sept. 24 incident that the ESU cops violated policy when they used a Taser against someone at risk of falling.

Morales' family has hired a lawyer to sue the city and the NYPD.


Just the Facts About Online Youth Victimization

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Sex offenders need community support

View the article here

08/15/2008

Sex offenders may be more likely to re-offend if they are forced away from the community after leaving prison according to award-winning research by a PhD student at the University of Canterbury.

Gwenda Willis, 24, has won the Science and our Society category of the 2008 MacDiarmid Young Scientists of the Year Awards, which is sponsored by the University of Auckland and Auckland UniServices, for her study of how pre-release planning affects rates of recidivism in the five years after sex offenders rejoin the community.

Her research is the first published study to show a link between quality of planning for community reintegration and sex offender recidivism. It contributes to a growing body of knowledge based on research sponsored by the Department of Corrections, together with overseas studies, that highlight the importance of pre-release planning and offender reintegration processes.

The MacDiarmid Awards are presented by the Foundation? for Research, Science and Technology with Fisher & Paykel Appliances as principal sponsor.

Participants in Gwenda’s research had completed a prison-based treatment programme at the Kia Marama Special Treatment Unit at Rolleston Prison near Christchurch, for men convicted of sexual offending against children.

She studied 39 men who had re-offended since their release and 42 who had not, measuring the quality of release plans for both groups. The groups were matched in terms of time since release and risk for reoffending. She measured planning for accommodation, employment, social support and setting pro-social goals related to their values.

Her findings were validated by a subsequent study of sexual offenders released from Te Piriti Special Treatment Unit at Auckland Prison.

Results showed that, overall, sex offenders with good planning had a six per cent re-offending rate, compared to 17 per cent for those with poor planning. Having a place to live organised when they got out of prison was shown to be particularly important.

Gwenda presented her research to an international conference on the treatment of sexual abusers in the United States last year and was awarded the prize for best paper by a postgraduate student.

“A lot of research in this field has concentrated on changing the attitudes or mind set of offenders but few people have realised the importance of the environment they are being released into,” says Gwenda. “My work shows that more careful planning, which is a relatively inexpensive thing to do, can make a real difference providing communities co-operate and help sex offenders make the transition.”

Gwenda lived in Dannevirke, Picton and Blenheim before her family settled in Christchurch where she attended Burnside High School and then the University of Canterbury. She expects to complete her PhD early next year and is also training to be a clinical psychologist.

Facilitating a workshop for young people who had been affected by sexual abuse a few years ago sparked Gwenda’s interest in ways of reducing rates od sexual re-offending

She is a keen runner who completed the Speights Coast to Coast in 2007 and will be taking part in one of the world’s largest marathons, the New York City Marathon, in November this year.

For further information please contact:

Maria Cobden
Foundation for Research, Science & Technology
Tel: (04) 917 7859 DDI

Katherine Edmond
Media Liaison, MacDiarmid Awards
Tel: (06) 877 2170 DDI
Mobile: (027) 274 0465

Find out more about the MacDiarmid Awards.


US: Sex Offender Laws May Do More Harm Than Good

Original Article | No Easy Answers (PDF)

Playlist Link


09/12/2007

End Registration of Juveniles, Residency Restrictions and Online Registries

New York - Laws aimed at people convicted of sex offenses may not protect children from sex crimes but do lead to harassment, ostracism and even violence against former offenders, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Human Rights Watch urges the reform of state and federal registration and community notification laws, and the elimination of residency restrictions, because they violate basic rights of former offenders. The 146-page report, “No Easy Answers: Sex Offender Laws in the United States,” is the first comprehensive study of US sex offender policies, their public safety impact, and the effect they have on former offenders and their families. During two years of investigation for this report, Human Rights Watch researchers conducted over 200 interviews with victims of sexual violence and their relatives, former offenders, law enforcement and government officials, treatment providers, researchers, and child safety advocates.

“Human Rights Watch shares the public’s goal of protecting children from sex abuse,” said Jamie Fellner, director of the US program at Human Rights Watch. “But current laws are ill-conceived and poorly crafted. Protecting children requires a more thoughtful and comprehensive approach than politicians have been willing to support.”

In many states, registration covers everyone convicted of a sexual crime, which can range from child rape to consensual teenage sex, and regardless of their potential future threat to children. Unfettered public access to online sex-offender registries with no “need-to-know” restrictions exposes former offenders to the risk that individuals will act on this information in irresponsible and even unlawful ways. There is little evidence that this form of community notification prevents sexual violence. Residency restrictions banish former offenders from entire towns and cities, forcing them to live far from homes, families, jobs and treatment, and hindering law-enforcement supervision. Residency restrictions are counterproductive to public safety and harmful to former offenders.

Sex offender laws reflect public concern that children are at grave risk of sexual abuse by strangers who are repeat offenders. As the report documents, however, the real risks children face are quite different: government statistics indicate that most sexual abuse of children is committed by family members or trusted authority figures, and by someone who has not previously been convicted of a sex offense.

In addition, the laws reflect the widely shared but erroneous belief that “once a sex offender, always a sex offender.” Authoritative studies indicate that three out of four adult offenders do not reoffend. Moreover, treatment can be effective even for people who have committed serious sex crimes.

Politicians didn’t do their homework before enacting these sex offender laws,” said Sarah Tofte, US program researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Instead they have perpetuated myths about sex offenders and failed to deal with the complex realities of sexual violence against children.”

Registration Policies

Federal law and the laws of all 50 states now require adults and some juveniles convicted of a vast array of crimes that involve sexual conduct to register their addresses and other information with law enforcement agencies. Because registration requirements are overbroad in scope and overlong in duration, there are more than 600,000 registered sex offenders in the US, including individuals convicted of non-violent crimes such as consensual sex between teenagers, prostitution, and public urination, as well as those who committed their only offenses decades ago.

The public believes everyone on a sex offender registry is dangerous,” said Fellner. “But what’s the point of requiring registration by a teenager who exposed himself as a high-school prank or even by someone who molested a child 30 years ago?”

Most states do not make individualized risk assessments before requiring registration. Nor do they offer former offenders a way to get off the registry upon a showing of rehabilitation or years of lawful behavior.

Human Rights Watch found there is scant justification for ever registering juvenile offenders, even those who have committed serious offenses. Most are likely to outgrow such behavior, particularly if given treatment. Recidivism rates for juvenile offenders are extremely low, and few adult offenders ever committed sex crimes as youth.

In “No Easy Answers,” Human Rights Watch recommends that registration requirements be limited to people assessed to pose a real risk of committing another serious sex offense.

Online Registries

Because of community notification laws, all states now have publicly accessible online sex offender registries that provide a former offender’s criminal history, photograph, current address, and often other information such as license plate numbers.

The laws do not limit access to online registries: anyone with internet access can find out who is registered anywhere in the country. The consequences to registrants are devastating. Their privacy is shattered. Many cannot get or keep jobs or find affordable housing. Registrants’ children have been harassed at school; registrants’ spouses have also been forced to leave their jobs. Former offenders included on online registries have been hounded from their homes, had rocks thrown through windows, and feces left on their doorsteps. They have been beaten, burned, stabbed, and had their homes set on fire. At least four registrants have been targeted and killed by strangers who found their names and addresses through online registries. Other registrants have been driven to suicide.

Human Rights Watch acknowledges the desire of parents to know if dangerous offenders live next-door. But carefully tailored community notification, provided directly by law enforcement agents, would supply them with the information they want while minimizing the harm to former offenders.

Residency Restrictions

A growing number of states and municipalities have also prohibited registered offenders from living within a designated distance (typically 500 to 2,500 feet) of places where children gather, for example, schools, playgrounds and daycare centers. Many of these restrictions apply even to offenders who were not convicted of abusing children. With regard to offenders who did victimize children, available data suggest that prohibiting them from living near any place where children gather does not reduce the likelihood that they will reoffend. Many law enforcement officials and sex offender treatment providers emphasize the importance of stability and support in reducing recidivism. They decry residency restrictions as counterproductive because they isolate and push underground people who may need family contact, treatment and supervision. Existing parole and probation laws permit individualized restrictions and conditions to be placed on former offenders when appropriate.

Human Rights Watch concludes residency restriction laws should be eliminated.

Residency restrictions solve nothing,” said Tofte. “They simply make it nearly impossible for former offenders to put their lives back together.”

The Human Rights Watch report includes several cases of people whose lives were significantly harmed by the restrictions. One woman, who as a high-school student had oral sex with another teenager, had to leave her home because it is near a daycare center. A softball coach, who six years ago grabbed the buttocks of a 12-year-old team member, cannot live with his wife and family because their home falls within a restricted zone.

The Adam Walsh Act

The federal Adam Walsh Act, passed in 2006, will exacerbate the problems with state sex offender laws. It forces states to either dramatically increase the scope and duration of registration and community notification restrictions – including requiring states to register youths as young as 14 – or lose some federal law enforcement grant money. Compliance with the Adam Walsh Act will preclude states from adopting more carefully calibrated and cost-effective registration and community notification policies. At least some states are debating whether the costs of complying with the law outweigh the benefits. Human Rights Watch urges reform of the Adam Walsh Act.

Recommendations

In “No Easy Answers,” Human Rights Watch makes a number of recommendations to state governments:

· Refuse to change registration and community notification laws to meet Adam Walsh requirements;
· Eliminate residency restriction laws;
· Limit registration requirements to people who have been convicted of serious crimes and who have been individually assessed to pose a significant risk of reoffending; and,
· Prevent unlimited dissemination of registry information by eliminating publicly accessible online registries. Community notification should be undertaken only by law enforcement officers and only about those registrants who pose a significant risk of reoffending.

Everyone has the right to live free of sexual violence.” said Tofte. “States should craft laws that will protect this right in a fair and sensible way.”


Teens and Online Stranger Contact

View the entire eAdvocate article here

Relevant studies for the committee to consider:

Very important to this committee is to understand the risks (sexual behaviors) today's youths regularly engage in. The Center for disease Control's 2005 "Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System" (YRBSS) will show that 46.8% of students had had sexual intercourse during their life (Table 44). (pg-19). This must be considered when addressing youths on Social Networking Websites; unfortunately, today's youths are risk takers. (Additional information on YRBSS)

The following studies are relevant to Internet Sex Crimes and the committee should review them to filter out the myths and misconceptions that prevail in the world of sex offenses and offenders. Many of the more recent studies refute some of the findings of the older studies. Since the Internet is a constantly changing medium the Committee should place more reliance on the newer studies to debunk myths, sound bytes and factoids.

Teens and Online Stranger Contact (Pew / Internet & American Life Project), October 2007

Teens, Privacy & Online Social Networks: How teens manage their online identities and personal information in the age of MySpace (Pew / Internet & American Life Project), April 2007

Internet Prevention Messages: Targeting the Right Online Behaviors, February 2007

CREATING & CONNECTING // Research and Guidelines on Online Social - and Educational - Networking (National School Boards Association), July 2007 (This study was made possible with generous support from Microsoft, News Corporation and Verizon. The study was comprised of three surveys: an online survey of 1,277 nine- to 17-year-old students, an online survey of 1,039 parents and telephone interviews with 250 school district leaders who make decisions on Internet policy.)

Internet-initiated Sex Crimes against Minors: Implications for Prevention Based on Findings from a National Study, May 2004

Escaping or connecting? Characteristics of youth who form close online relationships, 2003

THE EXPOSURE OF YOUTH TO UNWANTED SEXUAL MATERIAL ON THE INTERNET: A National Survey of Risk, Impact, and Prevention (2003)

Internet Sex Crimes Against Minors: The Response of Law Enforcement, November 2003

Internet Crimes Against Children (U.S Dep't of Justice) December 2001 & 2005 (Youth Internet Safety Survey is included)

Just The Facts About Online Youth Victimization: Researchers Present the Facts and Debunk Myths (Transcript), May 2007, this updating the 2000 "Online Victimization" report.

Online Victimization: A Report on the Nation's Youth (Crimes Against Children Research Center), June 2000

Presented by the collective mind of a National Coalition of Advocates.


THE FACTS ABOUT ONLINE SEX ABUSE AND SCHOOLS


This article was not written by me, but by PETE from "The Pulse" at the above link.  In no way do I claim this is something I wrote.

01/06/2007

Since 9/11 the mantra of “national security” has justified just about any action the power structure in Washington has wished to undertake. In educational circles the magical mantra has been “student safety”. The fear of online predators has been used to curtail, restrict, and prohibit the use of some of the most promising online educational technology tools.

In order to avoid an incident where a student is exposed to an online predator, “cyber-bullied” by classmates, or exposed to inappropriate material from the school’s Internet connection; educational leaders are routinely restricting the use of blogs, podcasts, e-mail, instant messaging, wikis, and other promising Web 2.0 tools. We’ve even decided to ban student photos from our school web pages.

How justified are our fears?

There are some statistics that raise alarm bells:

Four (4) percent of all youth Internet users in 2005 said online solicitors asked them for nude or sexually explicit photographs of themselves. (Online Victimization of Youth: Five Years Later. 2006. National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, Crimes Against Children Research Center, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. December 4, 2006)

Additional statistics available here.

Maintaining the safety of the children in their charge is a major part of the social bargain between parents and schools. Parents, who drop off their most treasured possessions at the school’s doorstep, expect them to be returned safely, and more knowledgeable than when they left them.

There is another set “facts” that might put these fears into perspective.

A good place to start is to look at the steadily decreasing Child Sexual Abuse trends:

figure 1
All forms of child abuse, not just sexual abuse, are undergoing a dramatic decline. Of course, you’d never know this from the hype the media is giving the cases of online related sexual abuse that they can trace back to MySpace or Facebook.

The picture painted by the media leaves the impression that child abuse and sexual abuse are increasing and that our children are under siege from online strangers using the Internet to snare their victims. The following chart puts some perspective on the threat from strangers, online, or not.
figure 2

The amazing and sad statistic that is so often overlooked and rarely discussed is that 95% of Child Abuse and Sexual Abuse is perpetrated by family members. 79% of perpetrators are parents. Other relatives accounted for 7% and unmarried partners of parents and “other” accounted for 4% and 5% of abuse.

If we want to decrease child and sexual abuse, our efforts would be far more effective if we focused our attention on the families of our students rather than the few sensationalized online incidents that the media trumpets so loudly.

A great way for schools to reduce the incidence of child and sexual abuse is to train their staffs to identify the warning signs. Although educators report more abuse than any other sector of society, incidents continue to be severely under-reported.
figure 3
 Educational Personnel make the highest number of child abuse referrals.
 
figure 4
The number of referrals and investigations is far lower than victimization rates.

Of the five percent (5%) of abuse perpetrated by those other than family members, the Internet is involved in only a small percentage. Definitive statistics on the prevalence of online cases is difficult to document.

It is also important to point out that 79% of reported online abuse occurred at the victim’s home, 9% happened at school, 5% happened at friend’s homes, and 5% happened at other places, including the library.

When we slice the “less than five percent pie” into these smaller pieces, the risk gets much, much smaller. Of course, statistics aren’t going to matter much if you are the parent of a child who has had an online incident, or the leader of school that has experienced one.

The question is, “Are we going to take a “zero risk” approach to using technology and the tools of the Web?”

We don’t take a “zero risk” approach with our sports programs where the chance of injury, paralysis, and, in rare cases, death, is always present. We don’t take that approach with field trips where students travel to museums and historical sites in locations where they might be touched by crime. We don’t take that approach with recess on our playgrounds, or transporting our kids to and from school.

We can never eliminate all risk; but there are ways to maximize our students’ safety while using these incredibly powerful tools. Each tool needs to be analyzed individually to ascertain its benefits and the specific risks it might present. From there, thoughtful people can find solutions to the student safety issues that may arise.

As educational leaders we need to be safety conscious. We need to be prudent, reasonable; but we won’t live in fear and we won’t act from fear.

It is by opening doors, not closing them that we create new possibilities for our children and new futures for ourselves.


Five Myths About Sex Offender Registries

View the article here

07/06/2005

All the Lists Are Not Created Equal

Though federal law requires all states to have sex offender registries, there are different laws governing them in each state. Here are five common misconceptions about the lists, from PedoWatch.org, a group dedicated to increasing awareness about threats to children from sexual predators.

Myth No. 1 — All sex offenders are required to register as sex offenders.

Each state has its own guidelines regarding which sex crimes qualify for requiring a person to register as a sex offender. Not all sex offenders are required to register. Many states do not have a penalty for failure to register for those who are required to register. It also greatly depends on what the offender pleaded guilty to or was convicted of, too. A person who broke into a home, stole some jewelry and raped a victim may have pleaded guilty to a robbery-related crime and any rape charges were dismissed.

Myth No. 2 — All states have one central registry where information from cities and counties is sent.

Some states do a very good job of collecting information from each city and county and adding it to one central state sex offender registry. But many states do not have a central registry, so you would need to check local city and county records for sex offender information.

Myth No. 3 — Sex offender registration is permanent.

Not always. Many times an offender is only required to register as a sex offender for a certain length of time. If he does not re-offend and completes his sentencing requirements in that length of time, he may no longer be required to register as a sex offender.

Myth No. 4 — People are entitled to all sex offender information and notification that an offender is moving to their neighborhood.

Some states do notify residents that a sex offender is moving into the neighborhood, while others do not. Many cities, counties and states require that you show proof of residency and require that you be a resident in the area where you would like sex offender information. There are often fees included as well.

While it is informative to know where the sex offenders are in your neighborhood, it is more important that you have background checks done on anyone who provides services for you or your children. This can include caregivers, instructors, drivers or other domestic help. Anyone working with or around children should be required to have a background check.

Myth No. 5 — Sex offender registries and lists are a reliable source for a background check.

Sex offender lists and registries should not be the sole source used in a background check.

Many people have the same names and many people move. Positive identification is necessary in determining a person's criminal record. Many states require you to have permission from the subject that you are checking and many require that a fingerprint card be submitted in order to do a proper background check. Contact your local law enforcement for more information.


Myths and Facts About Sex Offenders

View the article here

August 2000


There are many misconceptions about sexual offenses, sexual offense victims, and sex offenders in our society. Much has been learned about these behaviors and populations in the past decade and this information is being used to develop more effective criminal justice interventions throughout the country. This document serves to inform citizens, policy makers, and practitioners about sex offenders and their victims, addressing the facts that underlie common assumptions both true and false in this rapidly evolving field.
 



Myth:
Most sexual assaults are committed by strangers

Fact: Most sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim or the victim's family, regardless of whether the victim is a child or an adult.

Adult Victims:

Statistics indicate that the majority of women who have been raped know their assailant. A 1998 National Violence Against Women Survey revealed that among those women who reported being raped, 76% were victimized by a current or former husband, live-in partner, or date (Tjaden and Thoennes, 1998). Also, a Bureau of Justice Statistics study found that nearly 9 out of 10 rape or sexual assault victimizations involved a single offender with whom the victim had a prior relationship as a family member, intimate, or acquaintance (Greenfeld, 1997).

Child Victims:

Approximately 60% of boys and 80% of girls who are sexually victimized are abused by someone known to the child or the child's family (Lieb, Quinsey, and Berliner, 1998). Relatives, friends, baby-sitters, persons in positions of authority over the child, or persons who supervise children are more likely than strangers to commit a sexual assault.



Myth: The majority of sexual offenders are caught, convicted, and in prison

Fact: Only a fraction of those who commit sexual assault are apprehended and convicted for their crimes. Most convicted sex offenders eventually are released to the community under probation or parole supervision.

Many women who are sexually assaulted by intimates, friends, or acquaintances do not report these crimes to police. Instead, victims are most likely to report being sexually assaulted when the assailant is a stranger, the victim is physically injured during the assault, or a weapon is involved in the commission of the crime.
A 1992 study estimated that only 12% of rapes were reported (Kilpatrick, Edmunds, and Seymour, 1992). The National Crime Victimization Surveys conducted in 1994, 1995, and 1998 indicate that only 32% of sexual assaults against persons 12 or older were reported to law enforcement. (No current studies indicate the rate of reporting for child sexual assault, although it generally is assumed that these assaults are equally under-reported.) The low rate of reporting leads to the conclusion that the approximate 265,000 convicted sex offenders under the authority of corrections agencies in the United States (Greenfeld, 1997) represent less than 10% of all sex offenders living in communities nationwide.

While sex offenders constitute a large and increasing population of prison inmates, most are eventually released to the community. Some 60% of those 265,000 convicted sex offenders noted above were supervised in the community, whether directly following sentencing or after a term of incarceration in jail or prison. Short of incarceration, supervision allows the criminal justice system the best means to maintain control over offenders, monitor their residence, and require them to work and participate in treatment. As a result, there is a growing interest in providing community supervision for this population as an effective means of reducing the threat of future victimization.



Myth:
Most sex offenders reoffend

Fact: Reconviction data suggest that this is not the case. Further, reoffense rates vary among different types of sex offenders and are related to specific characteristics of the offender and the offense.
Persons who commit sex offenses are not a homogeneous group, but instead fall into several different categories. As a result, research has identified significant differences in reoffense patterns from one category to another. Looking at reconviction rates alone, one large-scale analysis (Hanson and Bussiere, 1998) reported the following differences:

  • child molesters had a 13% reconviction rate for sexual offenses and a 37% reconviction rate for new, non-sex offenses over a five year period; and
  • rapists had a 19% reconviction rate for sexual offenses and a 46% reconviction rate for new, non-sexual offenses over a five year period.

Another study found reconviction rates for child molesters to be 20% and for rapists to be approximately 23% (Quinsey, Rice, and Harris, 1995).

Individual characteristics of the crimes further distinguish recidivism rates. For instance, victim gender and relation to the offender have been found to impact recidivism rates. In a 1995 study, researchers found that offenders who had extrafamilial female victims had a recidivism rate of 18% and those who had extrafamilial male victims recidivated at a rate of 35%. This same study found a recidivism rate for incest offenders to be approximately 9% (Quinsey, Rice, and Harris, 1995).

It is noteworthy that recidivism rates for sex offenders are lower than for the general criminal population. For example, one study of 108,580 non-sex criminals released from prisons in 11 states in 1983 found that nearly 63% were rearrested for a non-sexual felony or serious misdemeanor within three years of their release from incarceration; 47% were reconvicted; and 41% were ultimately returned to prison or jail (Bureau of Justice Statistics).

It is important to note that not all sex crimes are solved or result in arrest and only a fraction of sex offenses are reported to police. The reliance on measures of recidivism as reflected through official criminal justice system data (i.e., rearrest or reconviction rates) obviously omits offenses that are not cleared through an arrest (and thereby cannot be attributed to any individual offender) or those that are never reported to the police. For a variety of reasons, many victims of sexual assault are reluctant to invoke the criminal justice process and do not report their victimization to the police. For these reasons, relying on rearrest and reconviction data underestimates actual reoffense numbers.
 


Myth:
Sexual offense rates are higher than ever and continue to climb

Fact: Despite the increase in publicity about sexual crimes, the actual rate of reported sexual assault has decreased slightly in recent years.

The rate of reported rape among women decreased by 10% from 1990 to 1995 (80 per 100,000 compared to 72 per 100,000) (Greenfeld, 1997). In 1995, 97,460 forcible rapes were reported to the police nationwide, representing the lowest number of reported rapes since 1989.

More recently, when examining slightly different measures, it appears that rates have continued to drop. The arrest rate for all sexual offenses (including forcible rape and excluding prostitution) dropped 16% between 1993 and 1998. In 1998, 82,653 arrests were logged for all sexual offenses, compared to 97,955 arrests in 1993 (Federal Bureau of Investigations, 1997 and 1998). 



Myth:
All sex offenders are male

Fact: The vast majority of sex offenders are male. However, females also commit sexual crimes.

In 1994, less than 1% of all incarcerated rape and sexual assault offenders were female (fewer than 800 women) (Greenfeld, 1997). By 1997, however, 6,292 females had been arrested for forcible rape or other sex offenses, constituting approximately 8% of all rape and sexual assault arrests for that year (FBI, 1997). Additionally, studies indicate that females commit approximately 20% of sex offenses against children (ATSA, 1996). Males commit the majority of sex offenses but females commit some, particularly against children.




Myth:
Sex offenders commit sexual crimes because they are under the influence of alcohol

Fact: It is unlikely that an individual who otherwise would not commit a sexual assault would do so as a direct result of excessive drinking.

Annual crime victim reports indicate that approximately 30% of all reported rapes and sexual assaults involve alcohol use by the offender (Greenfeld, 1998). Alcohol use, therefore, may increase the likelihood that someone already predisposed to commit a sexual assault will act upon those impulses. However, excessive alcohol use is not a primary precipitant to sexual assaults.




Myth:
Children who are sexually assaulted will sexually assault others when they grow up

Fact: Most sex offenders were not sexually assaulted as children and most children who are sexually assaulted do not sexually assault others.

Early childhood sexual victimization does not automatically lead to sexually aggressive behavior. While sex offenders have higher rates of sexual abuse in their histories than expected in the general population, the majority were not abused. Among adult sex offenders, approximately 30% have been sexually abused. Some types of offenders, such as those who sexually offend against young boys, have still higher rates of child sexual abuse in their histories (Becker and Murphy, 1998).

While past sexual victimization can increase the likelihood of sexually aggressive behavior, most children who were sexually victimized never perpetrate against others.




Myth:
Youths do not commit sex offenses

Fact: Adolescents are responsible for a significant number of rape and child molestation cases each year.

Sexual assaults committed by youth are a growing concern in this country. Currently, it is estimated that adolescents (ages 13 to 17) account for up to one-fifth of all rapes and one-half of all cases of child molestation committed each year (Barbaree, Hudson, and Seto, 1993). In 1995, youth were involved in 15% of all forcible rapes cleared by arrest—approximately 18 adolescents per 100,000 were arrested for forcible rape. In the same year, approximately 16,100 adolescents were arrested for sexual offenses, excluding rape and prostitution (Sickmund, Snyder, Poe-Yamagata, 1997).

The majority of these incidents of sexual abuse involve adolescent male perpetrators. However, prepubescent youths also engage in sexually abusive behaviors.




Myth:
Juvenile sex offenders typically are victims of child sexual abuse and grow up to be adult sex offenders

Fact: Multiple factors, not just sexual victimization as a child, are associated with the development of sexually offending behavior in youth.

Recent studies show that rates of physical and sexual abuse vary widely for adolescent sex offenders; 20 to 50% of these youth experienced physical abuse and approximately 40 to 80% experienced sexual abuse (Hunter and Becker, 1998). While many adolescents who commit sexual offenses have histories of being abused, the majority of these youth do not become adult sex offenders (Becker and Murphy, 1998). Research suggests that the age of onset and number of incidents of abuse, the period of time elapsing between the abuse and its first report, perceptions of how the family responded to the disclosure of abuse, and exposure to domestic violence all are relevant to why some sexually abused youths go on to sexually perpetrate while others do not (Hunter and Figueredo, in press).




Myth:
Treatment for sex offenders is ineffective

Fact: Treatment programs can contribute to community safety because those who attend and cooperate with program conditions are less likely to re-offend than those who reject intervention.

The majority of sex offender treatment programs in the United States and Canada now use a combination of cognitive-behavioral treatment and relapse prevention (designed to help sex offenders maintain behavioral changes by anticipating and coping with the problem of relapse). Offense specific treatment modalities generally involve group and/or individual therapy focused on victimization awareness and empathy training, cognitive restructuring, learning about the sexual abuse cycle, relapse prevention planning, anger management and assertiveness training, social and interpersonal skills development, and changing deviant sexual arousal patterns.

Different types of offenders typically respond to different treatment methods with varying rates of success. Treatment effectiveness is often related to multiple factors, including:

  • the type of sexual offender (e.g., incest offender or rapist);
  • the treatment model being used (e.g., cognitive-behavioral, relapse prevention, psycho-educational, psycho-dynamic, or pharmacological);
  • the treatment modalities being used; and
  • related interventions involved in probation and parole community supervision.

Several studies present optimistic conclusions about the effectiveness of treatment programs that are empirically based, offense-specific, and comprehensive (Lieb, Quinsey, and Berliner, 1998). The only meta-analysis of treatment outcome studies to date has found a small, yet significant treatment effect—an 8% reduction in the recidivism rate for offenders who participated in treatment (Hall, 1995). Research also demonstrates that sex offenders who fail to complete treatment programs are at increased risk for both sexual and general recidivism (Hanson and Bussiere, 1998).




Myth:
The cost of treating and managing sex offenders in the community is too high—they belong behind bars

Fact: One year of intensive supervision and treatment in the community can range in cost between $5,000 and $15,000 per offender, depending on treatment modality. The average cost for incarcerating an offender is significantly higher, approximately $22,000 per year, excluding treatment costs.

As noted previously, effective sex offender specific treatment interventions can reduce sexual offense recidivism by 8%. Given the tremendous impact of these offenses on their victims, any reduction in the reoffense rates of sex offenders is significant.

Without the option of community supervision and treatment, the vast majority of incarcerated sex offenders would otherwise serve their maximum sentences and return to the community without the internal (treatment) and external (supervision) controls to effectively manage their sexually abusive behavior. Managing those offenders who are amenable to treatment and can be supervised intensively in the community following an appropriate term of incarceration can serve to prevent future victimization while saving taxpayers substantial imprisonment costs (Lotke, 1996).


Megan's Law - Facts about Sex Offenders

View the article here

Office of the Attorney General (2001)


Let us see how much we know-and see how much of what we think has been based on the myths we have all heard about sexual assault and sex offenders. Take 5 minutes to complete the True or False Quiz:



Most men who commit sexual offenses do not know their victim.

False.
90% of child victims know their offender, with almost half of the offenders being a family member. Of sexual assaults against people age 12 and up, approximately 80% of the victims know the offender.


Most sexual assaults are committed by someone of the same race as the victim.

True.
Most sexual assaults are committed by someone of the same race as the victim. An exception to this is that people who commit sexual assault against Native Americans are usually not Native American (American Indians and Crime, 1999).



Most child sexual abusers use physical force or threat to gain compliance from their victims.

False.
In the majority of cases, abusers gain access to their victims through deception and enticement, seldom using force. Abuse typically occurs within a long-term, ongoing relationship between the offender and victim and escalates over time.



Most child sexual abusers find their victims by frequenting such places as schoolyards and playgrounds.

False.
Most child sexual abusers offend against children whom they know and with whom they have established a relationship. Many sexual assaults of adult women are considered "confidence rapes," in that the offender knows the victim and has used that familiarity to gain access to her.



Only men commit sexual assault.

False.
While most sex offenders are male, sometimes sex offenses are committed by female offenders.



Child sexual abusers are only attracted to children and are not capable of appropriate sexual relationships.

False.
While there is a small subset of child sexual abusers who are exclusively attracted to children, the majority of the individuals who sexually abuse children are (or have previously been) attracted to adults.



Victims of sexual assault are harmed only when offenders use force.

False.
More than any physical injuries the victim sustains, the violation of trust that accompanies most sexual assaults has been shown to dramatically increase the level of trauma the victim suffers. Emotional and psychological injuries cause harm that can last much longer than physical wounds.



If a child does not tell anyone about the abuse, it is because he or she must have consented to it.

False.
Children often do not tell for a variety of reasons including the offender's threats to hurt or kill someone the victim loves, as well as shame, embarrassment, wanting to protect the offender, feelings for the offender, fear of being held responsible or being punished, fear of being disbelieved, and fear of losing the offender who may be very important to the child or the child's family.



It is common for both child and adult victims of sexual assault to wait some time before telling someone about the abuse.

True.
It is common for victims of sexual assault to wait some time before telling someone. When the person was assaulted as a child, he or she may wait years or decades. The reasons for this are numerous: victims may want to deny the fact that someone they trusted could do this to them; they may want to just put it behind them; they may believe the myth that they caused the assault by their behavior; or they may fear how other people will react to the truth.



If someone sexually assaults a adult, he will not target children as victims, and if someone sexually assaults a child, he will not target adults.

False.
Research and anecdotal evidence indicate that while some sex offenders choose only one type of victim (e.g., prepubescent girls, post-pubescent boys, adult women, etc.), others prey on different types of victims. Therefore, no assumptions should be made about an offender's victim preference and precautions should be taken regardless of his crime of conviction.



It helps the victim to talk about the abuse.

True.
The victim's recovery will be enhanced if she or he feels believed, supported, protected, and receives counseling following the disclosure that s/he was assaulted. However, sexual assault victims should always have the choice about when, with whom, and under what conditions they wish to discuss their experiences.



Sexual gratification is often not a primary motivation for a rape offender.

True.
While some offenders do seek sexual gratification from the act, sexual gratification is often not a primary motivation for a rape offender. Power, control, and anger are more likely to be the primary motivators.



Offenders could stop their sexually violent behavior on their own if they wanted to.

False.
Wanting to change is usually not enough to be able to change the patterns that lead to sexual offenses. To create the motivation to change, some offenders need a variety of treatment and corrective interventions, and for others learning how to make the change in their own behavioral cycle of abuse is more effective.



Men who rape do so because they cannot find a consenting sexual partner.

False.
Studies suggest that most rape offenders are married or in consenting relationships.



Drugs and alcohol cause sexual offenses to occur.

False.
While drugs and alcohol are often involved in sexual assaults, drugs and alcohol do not cause sexual offenses to occur. Rather, drug and alcohol use may be a disinhibitor for the offender, while being under the influence may increase a potential victim's vulnerability.



Victims of sexual assault often share some blame for the assault.

False.
Adult and child victims of sexual abuse are never to blame for the assault, regardless of their behavior. Because of the age difference, children are unable to legally consent to sexual acts. They are often made to feel like willing participants, which further contributes to their shame and guilt.



If a victim does not say "no" or does not "fight back," it is not sexual assault.

False.
Sexual assault victims may not say "no" or not fight back for a variety of reasons including fear and confusion. Rape victims often report being "frozen" by fear during the assault, making them unable to fight back; other victims may not actively resist for fear of angering the assailant and causing him to use more force in the assault. Pressure to be liked and not be talked about negatively by a peer will sometimes cause adolescents or children to avoid fighting back or actively resisting.


Sex Offender Management in the Federal Probation and Pretrial Services System


06/2006

Migdalia Baerga-Buffler
James L. Johnson
Office of Probation and Pretrial Services
Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts

WHEN WE TALK about sex offenders, who are we really talking about? On any given day, we can see such headlines as, “Dozens Charged in International, Internet-Based Child Pornography Investigation”1 or “Federal Government Cracks Down on Online Child Pornographers.” The national and local media’s spotlight on crimes against children at times magnifies stories for purposes of sensationalism. Nevertheless, law enforcement/community corrections officers and treatment providers all agree that sex offenders pose significant risks to vulnerable populations in the community and require specialized and intensive management in the community. In the Federal Probation and Pretrial Services System (FPPSS), a “sex offender” is an individual who has any prior state or federal conviction for a sexual offense. For many, the term “sex offender” conjures up a wide-array of feelings, thoughts, and beliefs ranging from intense anger, rage, and disgust to beliefs that all sex offenders should be castrated or at least sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Although these are valid feelings and beliefs, the reality of sex offenders being apprehended and convicted is quite different.

Myth : “The majority of sexual offenders are caught, convicted, and in prison.”
Fact : Only a fraction of those who commit sexual assault are apprehended and convicted for their crimes. Most convicted sex offenders eventually are released to the community under probation or parole supervision.

Even when offenders are convicted of a sex offense, very few spend the remainder of their lives behind bars. While sex offenders constitute a large and increasing population of prison inmates, most are eventually released to the community. In fact, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, on any given day in 1994 an estimated 234,000 convicted sex offenders were under the care, custody, or control of community corrections agencies, and on average, nearly 60 percent of those released were under some form of community supervision.2 Short of incarceration, community supervision allows the criminal justice system the best means to maintain control over offenders, monitor their residence, and require them to work and participate in treatment.3 In the last 10 years, FPPSS has seen a steady increase in the numbers of sex offenders charged with and convicted of some form of sexual offense. As a result, there is growing interest in providing community supervision for this population as an effective means of reducing the threat of future victimization.

In order to effectively manage sex offenders in the community, officers need to become knowledgeable about sex offender characteristics and types. Additionally, they need to know the patterns of victim selection and interests. Acquiring this knowledge will help officers differentiate between the types of sex offenders they are managing, and, more importantly, allow the officer to consider the risk variables at hand.

Implications for Federal Probation and Pretrial Services Officers

Our definition of the term “sex offender” emphasizes the word “conviction.” This is not intended to de-emphasize the need for individuals charged with a sex offense to be carefully monitored for “high risk” behaviors that could place vulnerable individuals, particular children, in harm’s way. However, unlike probation officers, pretrial services officers also need to bear in mind the importance of maintaining the presumption of innocence as well as a defendant’s right against self-incrimination . At the pretrial services stage, the right against self-incrimination is invoked when a court—independently or at the recommendation of a pretrial services office—requests that a sex-offense-specific evaluation be conducted to determine possible risk to the community. This right against self-incrimination becomes an issue when a defendant is compelled during an evaluative process to disclose information or evidence that may incriminate him or her in the alleged instant offense or in some offense that is yet unknown to law enforcement officials.

Although it is a struggle for some pretrial services officers, all officers must continuously strive to balance the need for public safety with the need to maintain and protect the rights of all defendants.

As noted in the Federal Judicial Center’s Special Needs Offender Bulletin on Sex Offenders : “Federal jurisdiction over sex crimes...is based on constitutional grants of authority to regulate interstate or foreign commerce, and military posts, national parks, and Native American reservations.”4 In accordance with Title 18 USC subsection 1153 and other applicable statutes, the United States District Courts have exclusive jurisdiction over all major crimes occurring in Indian territories. Therefore, crimes that would typically fall within the jurisdiction of municipal, state, or tribal courts fall within the jurisdiction of U.S. District Courts. This holds major implications for federal officers responsible for supervising defendants or offenders on Indian reservations5 (whose task may differ drastically from officers who supervise sex offense-related cases in non-Indian Country districts). Federal officers supervising cases in Indian Country or remote rural locations grapple with geographical constraints, lack of adequate or available community resources, and local political climates, all of which may vary from non-Indian Country districts.

The following illustration may shed light on the unique challenges officers in Indian country encounter versus the challenges experienced in a large city or urban environment where resources may be plentiful and readily available:

In order to get a perspective on the unique challenges experienced by federal officers supervising mental health and sex offenders in a remote location, in 2001, I conducted a program review of the mental health treatment program in the Western District of North Carolina. As part of the review, I accompanied a Senior U.S. Probation Officer on a routine field supervision of sex offenders. During this particular field supervision, which spanned one 8-hour workday, we were scheduled to see two sex offenders and one sex offender treatment provider. In order to accomplish this, we had to drive approximately 240 miles, and we still were only able to make face-to-face contact with two of the three people we sought to see (the treatment provider and one offender). For many officers, this excursion may seem unimaginable or even far-fetched. However, for many officers supervising sex offenders in Indian Country and/or in rural or remote locations, this is part of their “routine.”

The geographical constraints are major in most Indian Country districts. In some districts, the closest sex offense-specific treatment provider is 100 to 300 miles from the defendant or offender’s home. Many of the defendants and offenders are faced with little to no public transportation services and limited access to private vehicles; when these options are available, many simply do not have the financial means to travel 100 to 300 miles to receive services. Fortunately, federal probation and pretrial services have been very astute in identifying creative solutions to the unique challenges faced by officers in remote and rural areas. These creative solutions range from hiring Native American probation officers who live on or near a reservation to contracting with treatment providers who provide mobile services. In addition, in January of 2000, OPPS designated a position to support these districts with technical assistance, supplemental funding (if available), identification of available resources, and ongoing communication via a national electronic forum that assists officers in managing mental health and sex offenders in the community.

The Keys to Effective Sex Offender Management

KNOWLEDGE: “One Size Does Not Fit All

Pedophiles, rapists, child molesters, child traffickers, and Internet child pornographers are all classified as sex offenders. The reality is that sex offenders are not a homogeneous group. On the contrary, they are a very heterogeneous group who come from all walks of life, professions, and lifestyles. They range from the “dirty old man hiding in alley ways,” to the highly educated professor, law enforcement officer, and teacher.

Physically, sex offenders are indistinguishable from you or me—which is essentially why it is critical for probation and pretrial services officers to be aware of who these sex offenders are and, just as important, the potential risk they pose to the community.

Officers are generally cautioned not to make overall assumptions and generalizations about sex offenders (yet they do). What may work for one sex offender may not necessarily work for another. Sex offenders vary in their levels of risk as well as in their sex-specific interests (e.g., some prefer male child victims while others prefer adult female victims). Nevertheless, the key issue is that sex offenders vary in one way or another, and “one size does not fit all .” 

Therefore, FPPSOs should be guided by Monograph 109, the national policy for the Federal Supervision of Offenders.6

SKILLS: “Specialized Training is Key to Successful Sex Offender Management

We often hear the phrase, “ Knowledge is Power .” In the case of supervising federal sex offenders, knowledge is power, and many vulnerable children—both known and unknown to the system—depend on an officer’s knowledge to protect them from sexually deviant individuals under community supervision. The primary goals in the supervision of sex offenders include, but are not limited to: 1) public safety, 2) preventing the victimization or re-victimization of children by sex offenders, and 3) serving as “the eyes and ears” of the court and ensuring that the general and special conditions ordered by the court are strictly adhered to during a defendant/offender’s term of supervision.
 
Community supervision of sex offenders can be more effective when FPPSOs are adequately trained in the areas of identification, evaluation, and treatment/management of sex offenders. To achieve this objective, the Federal Judicial Center (FJC), the education and research agency for the U.S. Courts, has produced several national satellite training programs in the areas of sex offender management. In addition, OPPS has provided officers (via national, local, and/or regional training programs) with national trends, resource information and general training in the area of sex offender management.

Traditional Mental Health Treatment versus Sex Offense-Specific Treatment

A key point that has been driven home by OPPS in the past six years is that sex offenders cannot be effectively managed in the community using “traditional” mental health treatment practices. Table 1 illustrates the differences between traditional mental health treatment and sex offense specific treatment. Sex offense specific treatment is defined as “interventions used to help sex offenders accept responsibility; increase level of recognition; and focus on the details of their sexual behavior, arousal, fantasies, planning and rationalizations of their sexually deviant thoughts and behavior.”7 Treatment may include objective physiological and psychological evaluations for ongoing assessment of the offender’s progress and risk of re-offending. Officers must know the major differences between the two types of treatment, so they can effectively work with this population.

Federal Probation and Pretrial Services officers have been advised through formal and informal training to seek and work with treatment providers who not only have advanced degrees, but also adhere to the standards and practices of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA)—the national organization that sets the standards for the evaluation and treatment of sexual abusers and/or the standards established by a state regulatory board for the evaluation and treatment of sex offenders. Federal officers also receive guidance in identifying qualified sex offender treatment providers through the referral sources available through the Safer Foundation Society and ATSA.

ABILITIES: “The Officer’s Tool Box

To address challenging issues officers confront that include sex offender management, OPPS has designated a full-time position in the area of mental health. For issues involving sex offender management, OPPS has created “tools” that can assist officers in their everyday work. These tools include:

  • Updated information on sex offender resources, statistics, and information via the judiciary’s Federal Judicial Television Network (FJTN), News and Views , Federal Probation and national, local, and regional sex offender symposiums.

  • A national electronic forum for officers working with mental health and sex offender cases .

  • Technical assistance, community resource development, legal opinions, conferences, etc. that can increase awareness and understanding of sex offenders.

  • Increases in the mental health budget. The mental health budget in the last six years has nearly tripled, making it easier for officers to contract for services when needed;

  • Increased number of available treatment services officers can utilize and contract for to effectively manage sex offenders.

  • Enhanced quality of the statement of work for contracted sex offender treatment services.

  • Sex offender management resources for officers.

  • Assistance with Identification of Qualified Treatment Providers. Officers can obtain from OPPS a listing of all available sex offender treatment providers in their district.

  • Provisional Information Regarding Sex Offenders Being Released From the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). Every two months, OPPS receives a roster of all the sex offenders who are being released from the BOP within the next 150 days. The roster is then made available to probation officers via our OPPS web home page.
 
Sex Offenders on Post-Conviction Supervision8

For the purposes of this article, statistics on sex offenders under post-conviction supervision in FPPSS were analyzed to identify the treatment methods used to most effectively manage this population. During the 12-month period analyzed (7/1/04–6/30/05), a total of 2,199 sex offenders in FPPSS received contracted services for sex offender treatment. This total, however, did not include pretrial defendants and may not represent all sex offenders in the federal probation system, as some sex offenders may have received non-contracted treatment services in their respective districts. Unfortunately, due to limitations of the current PACTS database system, we were unable to accurately identify those offenders who received non-contracted sex offender treatment services. Individual sex offenders under post-conviction supervision were identified through sex offender project codes,9 problem codes and/or treatment condition types, as well as through statutory requirements available in the National PACTS Reporting system (NPR).

Myth : “Treatment for sex offenders is ineffective.”
Fact : Treatment programs can contribute to community safety because those who attend and cooperate with program conditions are less likely to re-offend than those who reject intervention.

As shown in Table 2, Group Counseling and Individual Counseling were by far the most utilized methods for treating sex offenders in terms of number of offenders treated, total dollars spent, and average dollars spent per offender treated. This finding is not surprising, as many mental health professionals consider counseling to be the most effective means of addressing various forms of deviant behavior. Information regarding a sex offender’s sexual criminal history is deemed tenuous at best by mental health professionals, particularly because most of it is obtained through self-reports from the offenders in interviews or standardized questionnaires.10 Fear of legal reprisal often prevents offenders from revealing information beyond their current legal situation.11 Thus, it is virtually impossible to be certain of the full extent of the offender’s sexual history.

Polygraph testing is considered the most effective means of validating the accuracy of an offender’s self-reports. In Table 2, two sex offender project codes represent polygraph exams: 5022 (Polygraph Examination) and 5023 (Maintenance/Monitoring). For the purpose of identifying the amount spent per project code, these two codes were placed in the table separately. However, for treatment purposes, these two codes are used almost interchangeably. The primary difference between codes 5022 and 5023 is that the Polygraph Examination (5022) is used to validate historical information as part of an initial assessment, whereas Maintenance/Monitoring (5023) is used to validate reports of recent sexual behavior by offenders and is often conducted every six months.

Combined, polygraph testing was used on nearly 44 percent of the 2,199 sex offenders during the 12-month period analyzed. One of the least used treatment services was the Sex Offender Treatment/Education Group, as only 80 sex offenders received this form of treatment. One possible explanation for this may be that offenders received educational materials and information during their group counseling sessions, hence reducing the need to duplicate the effort. Penile plethysmographs were used to treat the fewest sex offenders (55). This may be due to the intrusiveness of the procedure as well as the fact that the primary purpose of the plethysmograph is to identify gender and age preferences and sexual arousal to deviant and non-deviant stimuli. Another factor that may reduce the use of penile plethysmograph is that districts may lack the trained professionals necessary to perform the procedure. It should also be noted that some project codes such as 5021 and 5025 may be underrepresented in this analysis due to some districts, for example, California Central, using them as part of their Sex Offender Specific Evaluation Report (5012).

Myth : “The cost of treating and managing sex offenders in the community is too high—they belong behind bars.”
Fact : One year of intensive supervision and treatment in the community can range in cost between $5,000 and $15,000 per offender, depending on treatment modality. The average cost for incarcerating an offender is significantly higher, approximately $22,000 per year, excluding treatment costs.

With the exception of Group and Individual Counseling, all the sex offender project codes had an average cost per offender treated below the national average of $933. The national average is somewhat inflated due to the total amount of money spent on group and individual counseling, which constitutes roughly 80 percent of the total dollars spent on sex offender treatment services. However, when we subtract both group and individual counseling project codes from the expenditures, the national average is greatly reduced to $488 per offender treated.

It is not uncommon for sex offenders to receive more than one form of sex offender treatment services during their period of supervision. In fact, PACTS data used for this article indicate that, on average, sex offenders received at least four different forms of treatment services 12 (see Figure 1). Therefore, the total number of offenders treated (4,803) will appear to exceed the total number of offenders in the system (2,199). In actuality, the total number of sex offenders treated is merely the number of offenders in the system receiving multiple combinations of treatment services.

Out of the 94 federal Probation and Pretrial Services districts, 83 districts used at least one of the available sex offender treatment project codes. Of the 83 districts that contracted out for sex offender treatment services, 20 districts13 used at least six different project codes (see Figure 1). Most districts used between 3 and 5 sex offender project codes, with 4 being the most frequently used number. Only two districts (Rhode Island and the Virgin Islands) used only one sex offender project code during the 12-month period analyzed. Eleven districts 14 did not report using any of the sex offender project codes; meaning they did not acknowledge paying for any sex offender treatment services.
 
Costs

Overall, districts spent a little less than $4.5 million on contracted sex offender treatment services during the 12-month period analyzed (see Table 2). This equates to an average cost of $53,965 per district that contracted out for sex offender treatment services. Arizona spent the most on sex offender treatment services ($388,584), followed closely by South Dakota ($380,958) and California Central ($262,177). Although Arizona spent the most money on sex offender treatment services ($388,584) and provided services for the greatest number of offenders (198), the average amount they spent on each offender ($1,963) was less than eight of the top 10 districts listed in Table 3. California Northern, which spent the largest amount per offender treated ($5,278), paid out close to a $1,000 more than the next closest district, which was California Central. With the exceptions of Arizona and Missouri Eastern, the remaining top ten districts spent, on average, more than $2,000 to treat each of their sex offenders.

It appears that districts are making a concerted effort to provide some form of treatment services to the sex offenders under their jurisdiction. Although districts are utilizing several different treatment methods, there are still a few project codes that are not being used.