Sunday, October 5, 2008

CA - Advocates to protest terminal California sex gulag system

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A protest will be held at noon, March 2, by the "Friends and Family of California Civil Detainees" (FFCCD) as well as the group "Reform of Sex Offender Laws" (RSOL) in front of Coalinga State Hospital (CSH). The $388 million California Department of Mental Health’s CSH is widely viewed as a massively failed experiment with little hope of fulfilling its mandate to California taxpayers,

The nation’s largest facility for housing sex offenders after their prison terms are completed, CSH is derided by its many critics, including public policy experts, victim’s groups and its own staff and patients, as an ill-conceived experiment that squanders California’s limited fiscal resources at a time when the State faces a $14 billion shortfall. CSH has been charged with failing to: implement changes ordered by a 2004 U.S. Justice Department Consent Decree; provide effective sex offender treatment; comply with state and federal laws.

FFCCD and RSOL, in staging a protest outside of CSH, hope to bring attention to the facility’s many failings and to its record of flagrant human rights violations and inability to improve public safety. Demonstration organizers say that it is just the beginning of a campaign to bring critical awareness to the disastrous policies of California’s Department of Mental Health as well as to state laws and ballot initiatives that appeal on an emotional level to voters but which make bad public policy.

Mike St. Martin, a Civil Detainee held in CSH and Detainee Spokesman, stated: "CSH is plagued by staff shortages, patient and staff unrest, and rampant abuse and neglect. The death of Detainee Frank Valadao in November has finally brought attention to a medical system that is a ticking time bomb ready to go off, with irresponsible delays, bad treatment, misdiagnoses, poor training and medical care grossly deficient for an aging population."

Valadao died after he collapsed while playing basketball in CSH. Another patient attempted to revive him while he lay unconscious on the floor, but medical staff ordered him to discontinue his efforts while failing themselves to attempt resuscitation. Detainees allege staff did not provide Valadao with the timely medical assistance that might have saved his life.

St. Martin went on to say: "When Tom Voss (CSH Executive Director at the time of its dedication, August 24, 2005) said in his speech at the opening ceremony, ‘At least 90 percent of the men who come here will probably die here,’ he inadvertently let slip the true objective of the Department of Mental Health, at dramatic variance with its stated goals of effective treatment and rehabilitation. To this day, the Department continues to cover-up its chaotic system of wanton medical and psychological neglect, misdiagnoses and mistreatment—itself a ‘tangle of pathologies’ with a blanket of lies for public and legislative consumption.

"Tom Voss was probably just being honest. It looks as though we will be here for the rest of our lives. The reality of CSH is this: We are being held for crimes that we may commit in the future by people who are committing crimes in the present. Neither disingenuous mission statements nor clever public relations can conceal this fact."

The High Cost of Sex Offender Mythology

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According to a report from the New York Department of Correctional Services, between 1985 and 2001 a total of 11,898 sex offenders were released from New York State prisons. Only 253 of these (2.1%) were returned to prison for new sex crimes within three years of their release. These figures will be shocking to many in the public and even to many lawmakers who have bought into the mythology of the high rate of sex offender recidivism.

Make no mistake, “bought in” is the appropriate description. Civil confinement of sex offenders in New York State is estimated to cost $81 million in its first year. In the debate in the New York State Assembly, Peter Rivera referred to estimated costs in out years of $650 million per year. Other states have found that initial estimates have been lower than actual costs. Their experience has been that almost no offender is ever released. The populations and the cost keep skyrocketing. The initial estimate is that New York will confine 100 offenders in the first year. At that rate, New York will civilly commit 1600 individuals over the next 16 years whom it deems unable to control their actions. Compare that figure to the 253 who were unable to control their actions over the aforementioned 16 year period.

The high cost of sex offender mythology only begins there. Economists Leigh Linden and Jonah Rockoff found in a North Carolina study that when a sex offender moves into a neighborhood, the value of houses within a one-tenth mile area around the sex offender's home fall by 4 percent on average. They estimated that the presence of sex offenders has shrunk property values in Mecklenburg County, NC by about $58 million. One should keep those figures in mind, when one reads news of the recent court decision which will result in 4400 sex offenders being restored to the New York sex offender registry. None of these had previously been listed in the online registry. Due to a recent change in the law, the Level 2 (moderate risk) offenders now will be listed. These individuals had all been told that if they lived safely in the community for 10 years they would be dropped from the registry. They complied. New York State changed the law. Their neighbors will pay the cost in the loss of their property values. No one will be any safer.

Some communities have already figured out the affect of sex offenders on housing values. They have enacted sex offender residency laws which shut out former offenders. Of course, many become homeless. Taxpayers have to pick up the tab. Suffolk County, NY now houses homeless offenders in trailers which they move around the county and place in undisclosed locations at the cost of $85 per night per offender. The experience in other states is that such residency laws result in more offenders failing to register because they cannot find housing. Of course, this results in more politicians calling for GPS tracking of offenders which in turn costs more taxpayer dollars.

There are more potential costs on the horizon. Senators Schumer and McCain have submitted a bill which would require that registered sex offenders register their e-mail addresses and online screen names. Former offenders who do not do so may be sentenced to prison for up to ten years. This will not be effective in preventing crime. Anyone who knows anything about the Internet knows that e-mail addresses are easily created with fake information. It most likely will result in some otherwise law abiding former offender being imprisoned for forgetting to submit some long unused screen name or e-mail address. Taxpayers will pay the cost. No one will be safer. Of course, Senators Schumer and McCain are responding to the fear of Internet predators elicited by such reports as those on MSNBC Dateline’s “To Catch a Predator” series. They need to pay more attention to the show. Out of the over 200 perpetrators caught in the sting, only 4 were registered sex offenders—a clear demonstration that sex offender mythology is just that, mythology.

The statistics in the Dateline show are reflective of statistics reported by the U.S. Department of Justice. The vast majority of new sex crimes are committed by someone other than registered sex offenders. The Department of Justice reports that 93% of sex crimes against children are within the family or committed by adults whom the children know well. The face of danger is more likely to be in a family snapshot than on a sex offender registry.

We often decry politicians for just throwing money at problems. As regards the problem of sex offenses, they are throwing our money, but they are largely missing the problem.

Civil Commitment in the US

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Where did the 50,000 online predator number come from?

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See Also: ‘On the Media’: Comics Edition - 50,000 online predators, the goldilocks number


BROOKE GLADSTONE: The children. We are all of us frightened for the children. And we have plenty of numbers to justify that fear, like a 20-billion-dollar child porn industry or 50,000 predators prowling for children online, numbers that resound endlessly through the media ether, origins unknown. Take that last number, 50,000 sexual predators logged in at any given time. That appeared late last year in a series for NBC's "Dateline," called "To Catch a Predator." Last week, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales cited it. Legal Times noted that spokespersons for the FBI, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Crimes Against Children Research Center say it's not based on any research they're aware of. The A.G.'s Office said it came from "Dateline."

CHRIS HANSEN: It was attributed to, you know, law enforcement, as an estimate, and it was talked about as sort of an extrapolated number.

BROOKE GLADSTONE: Chris Hansen is a reporter for the "Dateline" series, still ongoing.

CHRIS HANSEN: So when we went to interview Ken Lanning, who was the expert we talked to in our first piece, I said, “Look, this number keeps surfacing. Do you think that it's accurate, it's reliable?” And he essentially said to me, “I've heard it, but depending on how you define what is a predator, it could actually be a very low estimate.”

BROOKE GLADSTONE: He took that as confirmation, but maybe he shouldn't have.

KEN LANNING: I didn't know where it came from. I couldn't confirm it, but I couldn't refute it either, but I felt it was a fairly reasonable figure.

BROOKE GLADSTONE: That's Hansen's source, FBI veteran Ken Lanning.

KEN LANNING: I was somewhat curious about the fact [CHUCKLES] that it was 50,000. That number had popped in the past, because I had been an FBI agent for over 30 years. In the early 1980s, this was the number that was most often used to estimate how many children were kidnapped or abducted by strangers every year. But the research that was done in the early 1990s found that somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 to 300 children every year were abducted in this manner.

BROOKE GLADSTONE: It seems bad things don't come in threes – they come in fifty thousand.

KEN LANNING: The other one that I specifically [LAUGHS] remembered kind of came in the late '80s, where there were a lot of people who were talking about satanic cults that were supposedly running around the country engaging in human sacrifices. And when you'd try to say, well, how much of this is going on? - once again, [LAUGHS] the same number popped up – 50,000 a year.
- Speaking of satanic cults, there was a day care hysteria that started due to media fear-mongering, read it here, and they had almost ZERO evidence, but MANY people were put in prison for nothing.


KEN LANNING: Yes. That's what they were alleging. [LAUGHS] This one here was a little bit more obviously problematic to me, because we do have good data on homicide. And at that time, there was somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 to 23,000 murders every year, so this meant that the satanists all by themselves were killing twice as many [LAUGHING] people as all the other murderers combined.

BROOKE GLADSTONE: So why is 50,000 such an unaccountably sticky figure?

KEN LANNING: Maybe the appeal of the number was that it wasn't a real small number – it wasn't like 100, 200 – and it wasn't a ridiculously large number, like 10 million. It was like a Goldilocks number - not too hot, not too cold.

BROOKE GLADSTONE: Carl Bialik tracks down dubious numbers in his column for The Wall Street Journal. He followed up that 20-billion-dollar child porn industry figure I quoted earlier, and it led him straight into a blind alley. Now, 20 billion is what Lanning might call a ridiculously large number, and despite multiple media citations and a long string of attributions, in the end Bialik could find no research group or agency willing to claim ownership.

CARL BIALIK: An interesting phenomenon of these numbers is that they'll often be cited to an agency or some government body, and then a study will pick it up, and then the press will repeat it from that study. And then once it appears in the press, public officials will repeat it again, and now it's become an official number.
- Like Hitler once said: "If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed."
BROOKE GLADSTONE: And it actually displays a touching faith in the numbers supplied by the media.

CARL BIALIK: It does. You know, often public officials will criticize the media, but when there's a number that squares with the stance they're going to take, then it's a great resource for them.

BROOKE GLADSTONE: Especially when that stance is unassailable. For example -

CARL BIALIK: I completely agree with their goal of protecting children, but they often will use dubious numbers to advance that goal. I think one of the reasons that this is allowed to continue to happen is that there isn't really a natural critic.


CARL BIALIK: Nobody really wants to really wants go to on the record saying, you know, it turns out this really isn't a big problem, because then you can be accused of being on the side of the [LAUGHS] sexual predators.

BROOKE GLADSTONE: Steve Ross, a former professor at Columbia University's School of Journalism, who taught a class on reporting numbers, says journalists have their own reasons for ornamenting their stories with digits.

STEVE ROSS: Look, 30, 40 years ago, ever since I've been in the business, the editor will come down to you and say, add a number. It builds credibility. Got to have a number in there.

BROOKE GLADSTONE: But when it comes to crime, a good number is hard to find.

STEVE ROSS: The only reasonably accurate national crime statistics come out of something called the Uniform Crime Report. The Uniform Crime Report only tracks eight different crimes – rape, murder, auto theft, that sort of thing. If it's not a crime that is tracked – child pornography is not tracked, for instance – there is no hard and fast national number that comes out of that. At the very best, it's a number that's extrapolated from a more limited survey.

BROOKE GLADSTONE: "Dateline" reporter Chris Hansen.

CHRIS HANSEN: There's a natural tendency to try to quantify a problem. I think we all do it.

BROOKE GLADSTONE: So you think you'll continue to use that number?

CHRIS HANSEN: We used it in the first two stories, and we haven't used it in the last three.

BROOKE GLADSTONE: But in terms of changing the previous stories - or I know that they may be rebroadcast at MSNBC - you'll just leave them as they stand.

CHRIS HANSEN: Well, I don't think that decision's been made yet.

CARL BIALIK: The strongest form of media bias is probably a reporter's bias for his or her own story.

BROOKE GLADSTONE: Wall Street Journal numbers guy, Carl Bialik.

CARL BIALIK: And when you find a number that backs up the thesis you've adopted for your story, it can be really hard to pass it up.

BROOKE GLADSTONE: Add to that the mysterious allure of 50,000, applied to mayhem ranging from Korean War casualties to the annual death toll from second-hand smoke. I tossed it to former journalism prof, Steve Ross. If I were to throw that number out to you as if it were a "Jeopardy" answer, what might you guess the question would be?

STEVE ROSS: How many traffic deaths are there in the United States every year?

BROOKE GLADSTONE: How about how many people are killed a year because of satanic human sacrifice?

STEVE ROSS: I would doubt that it is very many. [LAUGHTER] But I've heard 50,000. [LAUGHTER]

BROOKE GLADSTONE: The FBI's Fanning says there may well be 50,000 sexual predators trawling the net. He doesn't know. He does know that 50,000 is the Goldilocks of crime stats. But, as experience shows, that doesn't mean it's just right. [MUSIC UP AND UNDER]

BOB GARFIELD: Coming up, Iran gets some bad press it didn't deserve, and an unemployed editor seeks work after a life spent at Hustler.

BROOKE GLADSTONE: This is On the Media from NPR.

Copyright 2006 WNYC Radio

Child Maltreatment 2006

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Inside Cover
Letter from the Associate Commissioner

Chapter 1: Introduction

Background of NCANDS
Annual Data Collection Process
Structure of the Report

Chapter 2: Reports


Chapter 3: Children



Chapter 4: Fatalities



Chapter 5: Perpetrators



Chapter 6: Services


Chapter 7: Additional Research Related to Child Maltreatment

Appendix A: Required CAPTA Data Items

Appendix B: Glossary

Appendix C: Data Submissions and Data Elements


Appendix D: State Commentary

Appendix E: Reader Feedback

Child Abuse - Statistics, Research, and Resources

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By Jim Hopper, Ph.D.
I am a researcher and therapist with a doctorate (Ph.D.) in clinical psychology, and an Instructor in Psychology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

I have studied rates of child abuse and its potential long-term effects – initially psychological and behavioral effects in men, more recently effects on biology and regulation of emotions – as well as treatments to help people recover from child abuse. My research colleagues include Dr. Bessel van der Kolk and Dr. Roger Pitman, leaders in the field of psychological trauma.

As a licensed clinical psychologist, for over 15 years I have been a therapist to men and women abused in childhood, providing individual and group treatment. (I do not work with children or their caregivers, but see Resources for Parents & Caregivers on this page).

If you are interested in my professional services, including therapy, talks, workshops, and consultations, visit that page.

The contents of this page reflect my level of experience and expertise, as well as opinions I have formed over the years.

Finally, I would like to highlight another page of mine, Mindfulness: An Inner Resource for Healing from Child Abuse. It explains the many benefits of cultivating mindfulness and provides resources for learning to be more mindful. For some, simply reading the page will introduce them to new and healing ways of thinking about and experiencing their own mental and emotional processes.

Table of Contents

Child Abuse Statistics

Child Abuse Effects and Resources for Healing

FBI Rape Statistics and DNA Testing

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When reading the report from which the excerpts shown below were taken, consider that the FBI program of DNA testing of rapists didn't begin until 1989, and that therefore it is very likely that about 25 or perhaps as many as 40 percent of men convicted before 1989 of and serving time for rape are innocent.

Consider also that the DNA testing program took some time to come into full swing, so that even after 1989 it was quite likely that innocent men (as per DNA evidence) would still have been convicted of rape, although somewhat steadily declining numbers of them.

Consider further that the FBI doesn't become involved in all rape cases, only in those that are referred to it. So, the actual number of innocent men imprisoned for rape must be far, far higher than one is led to believe by the excerpts.

The question still remains as to how many of the "rapists" whose DNA is a match with that of the semen found in or on their victims actually had consensual sex. After all, even a wife can claim that she has been raped by her husband, if at any time she decides to do that, regardless of whether the sexual intercourse she had with her husband was consensual or not.

In the end, nothing matters other than what the woman says. And, as they say, "women don't lie." Obviously, what they say is wrong. (In the US, there are an estimated 520,000 false rape allegations a year — 98.1% of all reported cases. — Eeva Sodhi, Debunking Domestic Violence Statistics; Rape)

Revisiting Department of Justice Recidivism Statistics and More Shocking Truths

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Posted with permission from the author: eAdvocate. Please visit the above site for a lot more good information!

9-8-2008 National:

Every so often someone dismisses a sex offender study on grounds that make no sense, today we have such a case. The sex offender study is about recidivism (of former sex offenders), and first time sex offenders (former non sex offenders), the study: "Recidivism of Sex Offenders Released from Prison in 1994" (198281) published by the Department of Justice in November 2003. Follow highlighting of former sex offenders and former non sex offenders.

The claim:

This study is no good because it doesn't address registered sex offenders and non sex offenders. Given it does address non sex offenders which I'll explain in a minute, I cannot see why it should address registered sex offenders. The reason is simple, the study includes newly released prisoners in 1994, followed for three years, and the majority of the states did not even have a registration requirement back then. With that said, on to the relevant issues:

This is an excellent study because of who it covers (target subjects). That year there were 272,111 prisoners released from prison in 15 states (Arizona, Maryland, North Carolina, California, Michigan, Ohio, Delaware, Minnesota, Oregon, Florida, New Jersey, Texas, Illinois, New York, and Virginia). Of the 272,111 prisoners 9,691 were former sex offenders and that represented 2/3rds of all released sex offenders in the nation that year. This study included ALL of them, and that makes this study unique.

Here is the breakdown of released prisoners(pg-7):
9,691 Sex Offenders Released
262,420 Other Offenders Released
272,111 Total Offenders Released

Those are KEY facts showing the study covers former sex offenders and former non sex offenders (others offenders). Anyone in prison for a crime other than a sex offense is a former non sex offender.

Who commits more sex crimes, former sex offenders -or- former non sex offenders?

First, a overall recidivism chart created from statistics in the study:

Click to see "Overall Sex Offender" Recidivism Rates

Now, most folks will claim, but sex offenders are 4 times more likely to commit a sex offense than a non sex offender after being released from prison. True, that is what the study says, but thats only PART of what the study says, see:
Rearrest for a new sex crime: Compared to non-sex offenders released from State prisons, released sex offenders were 4 times more likely to be rearrested for a sex crime. Within the first 3 years following their release from prison in 1994, 5.3% (517 of the 9,691) of released sex offenders were rearrested for a sex crime. The rate for the 262,420 released non-sex offenders was lower, 1.3% (3,328 of 262,420).(pg-7)
Now, notice the under lined portion, that talks about non sex offenders, those who were in prison for other offenses (former non sex offenders). REVELATION, former non sex offenders -after release- went on to commit first time sex offenses, thats a fact!
Statistics can play tricks on one's mind: Notice, 5.3% of the former sex offenders were rearrested for a new sex crime while only 1.3% of the former non sex offenders were rearrested for a sex offense. Sounds like the real bad guys are the former sex offenders, right? WRONG, lets change those percentages into real numbers (real sex crimes): 5.3% = 517 sex crimes, and, 1.3% = 3,328 sex crimes IN THE SAME TIME PERIOD! So, former sex offenders committed 517 sex crimes -and- former non sex offenders committed 3,328 sex crimes. Study that, let it sink in, then look at the chart above. Shocking enough?
Who should society be more concerned about?

The laws targeting former sex offenders MAY prevent some recidivism, but lawmakers have totally ignored the group causing the majority of NEW sex crimes by former prison inmates. Now, for every ONE sex crime committed by a former sex offender, there are SIX sex crimes committed by former non sex offenders.

That folks is something lawmakers simply ignore, and focus on former sex offenders. Now, consider this, all those NEW sex crimes committed by former non sex offenders, is causing further public and lawmaker hysteria of former sex offenders!

What distinguishes this study from many other recidivism studies?

Sex offender recidivism studies can be misleading because often a study will look at a SPECIFIC SUB GROUP of sex offenders, and ignore other sub groups. Frequently, a speaker will latch on to such a study and claim it pertains to ALL sex offenders, and in so doing distorts the truth.
This DOJ study FIRST looks at ALL sex offenders released and provides recidivism statistics that way. So, remember, when discussing ALL SEX OFFENDERS then the overall rates can be used and will be correct.

Now Subgroups: When a study looks at "rapists" or "child molesters" or "pedophiles" or "adult molesters" or "statutory rapists" or "Romeo and Juliet" cases, or "Lolita" cases, or "stranger" cases, or just high profile cases, or other sub groupings of sex offenders, then they are looking for something about that sub group.
Yes, these are different groupings of sex offenders, and when subgroups are addressed. it EXCLUDES all other sub groups of sex offenders. This is done to generate specific stats which is normal if the researcher has a reason to do so, but remember, sub group recidivism rates CANNOT be used when speaking of ALL SEX OFFENDERS.

How are subgroups formed?

Well, the facts of the crime dictates what subgroup an offender will fall into, and an offender can fall into more than one subgroup.

Scenario-1: Suppose a offender commits a sex crime against a minor which the offender does not know. The offender would be a "child molester" and also be grouped as a "stranger" case. If the offender knew the victim or was part of the daily life of the victim, then it would not be a "stranger" case

Scenario-2: Suppose John and Mary are dating and having sex, Mary is a minor and John turns 18. This is tricky because both before and after John turns 18 he is a "child molester" according to the law, because Mary cannot give consent under the law. Now this is also what is known as a "Romeo & Juliet" case hence different subgroups.

Scenario-3: Suppose Sam is attracted to young children and has downloaded hundreds of pictures of child pornography, given those facts he would be a "pedophile." However, suppose Peter, also attracted to children, but has been going to a psychiatrist and has been diagnosed as suffering from "pedophilia" using the DSM-IV (Code 302.2) which is described in the DSM-IV) but has not committed any offense against a child. Is he a "pedophile," yes. Now, suppose George a RSO having committed ONE sex crime against a child and lives down the street from you. Is he a "pedophile," no. George's case does not show facts to indicate he is a "pedophile." i.e., a preference for children (one time conviction, without additional facts, fails to show a preference).
A problem with the dictionary definitions of pedophile: Some are misleading and define "pedophile" as one who prefers sex with children -and others- as one who commits a sex crime with a child (lacking "preference" this may be incorrect).

Failing to include some context of "preference" (which supports the DSM-IV definition), -or- in the case of child pornography above which shows a preference, i.e., downloaded many pictures of child porn. Pedophiles prefer!
Now, is John (the one who was dating Mary above) a pedophile? Given the above facts, no, he is a person in a dating relationship and ab scent facts showing a improper preference for children, he is not a pedophile. So before labeling someone a "pedophile" you need to know facts of the case, lest you be wrong. With all that said, "pedophiles" are one subgroup of sex offenders.

Scenario-4: Now, suppose Luke is attracted to and prefers girls who are about 14-17, he is known as a "EPHEBOPHILE: An adult affected with ephebophilia (age attraction 14-17)." Age is where we get into a problem because "children" in most of today's laws means someone under 18, but in the psych world pedophiles are mostly associated with prepubescent children. This point with be argued for years to come and never settled one way or the other; I'll let it rest here.

I could go on and on with subgroups of sex offenders but I need to get back to the study.

Does the DOJ Study Address ANY subgroups of sex offenders?

Yes, the DOJ addressed subgroups which were important to the public. Before looking at which subgroups a note is important: No other study -bar none- has put the subjects under the microscope and analyzed them, six ways to Sunday as they say, as this study has. That is why this study has more value than any other study at this time.

The DOJ analyzed offenders' crimes and found they fall into the following subgroups (remember, some offenders -based on the facts of their crime- may fall into more than one subgroup, so the sum of the following will be greater than 9,691, total released):

3,115 were rapists;
6,576 were sexual assaulter;
4,295 were child molesters;
443 were statutory rapists.

Now I am going to focus on one subgroup, child molesters, and my reason is, because ALL new laws governing sex offenders nationally, is driven by the cry of "to protect children." Again, from statistics provided in the DOJ study the following chart was compiled to pull together recidivism rates as to children:

Click to see "Child Molester" Recidivism Rates

This chart shows us that 2.2% of all sex offenders released from prison, and followed for 3 years, went on to be rearrested for a new sex crime against a child. The chart shows the breakdown of that number.

Now, remember my earlier comment "Who should society be more concerned about?", released sex offenders -or- released non sex offenders. The DOJ found that released non sex offenders go on to commmit MORE NEW SEX OFFENSES than released sex offenders.

Well, get ready top be shocked again, released non sex offenders go on to commit approximately FIVE new sex offenses to every ONE committed by a released sex offender AGAINST A CHILD. See the chart, released sex offenders committed 213 new sex crimes against children, BUT, released non sex offenders committed 1,042 in the same time period (3 years).

A fact revealed by the Department of Justice which lawmakers are aware of and do nothing about, non sex offenders are more dangerous to the community!

Residency type laws: Laws prohibiting residing, loitering, etc., within xx feet of schools, playgrounds, parks, day cares, churches and other places where children MIGHT congregate, are targeted to the group LEAST LIKELY to commit a crime against a child. Lawmakers permit other released offenders to reside and enter these areas, and do nothing about them. Why are lawmakers so blind?

Internet Restrictions: Lawmakers are passing laws to gather up e-mail addresses and other Internet IDs and some even go after the paswords. Again, the cry is to protect children! Which released offender is MOST LIKELY to commit a crime against a child? Right, non sex offenders, the statistics prove that. Lawmakers still do nothing with respect to released non sex offenders and Internet restrictions. Again, why are lawmakers so blind?

Parks: Lawmakers are pasing laws and ordinances to prohibit all sex offenders from entering parks. Which released offender is MOST LIKELY to commit a crime against a child? Right, non sex offenders, the statistics prove that. Lawmakers still do nothing with respect to released non sex offenders and parks. Again, why are lawmakers so blind?

So my question is simple, if non sex offenders released from prison are causing 86.6% of all new sex offenses, and, 83% of all new sex crimes against children, why do lawmakers do nothing about this? The evidence is in lawmakers hands, they ignore it. Why?

I'll take an answer from anyone, that is a logical answer.


Official California Report to the Legislature and Govenor's Office

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January 2008

Data at a Glance

  • 3.55% of sex offenders on parole with CDCR had committed new sex offenses by the time the conclusion of their three-year parole period.
  • A ten-year follow-up study of 879 sex offenders in the state of Ohio reported that when using sex offense conviction as the outcome measurement, of 34 % of sex offenders who have re-offended, only 8 % were re-committed for a new sex crime, plus 3 % for a technical violation judged to be related to a potential new sex crime, while the other 22% reoffended for non-sexual offenses.

Solid information about the recidivism of sex offenders is one of the key building blocks for good policy and effective practice in sex offender management. If it were not for the concern that an identified sex offender may offend again in the future and create another victim, the questions about how to best manage sex offenders living in California communities would not be of such intense interest. Knowing how likely it is that an individual sex offender or a certain type of sex offender might re-offend can drive many decisions. Similarly, knowing what interventions actually reduce the chances that a sex offender will re-offend is also extremely important.

Existing data indicates that the majority of sex offenders do not re-offend sexually over time (Harris & Hanson, 2004). Additionally, research studies over the past two decades have consistently indicated that recidivism rates for sex offenders are, in reality, lower than the re-offense rates for most other types of offenders. In a longitudinal study that followed 4,742 known sex offenders over a period of 15 years, 24% were charged with or convicted of, a new sexual offense (Harris & Hanson, 2004). The U.S. Department of Justice found that 5% of 9,691 sex offenders released from prisons in 1994 were re-arrested for new sex crimes within three years. Recent research data from California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation indicate that fewer than 4% of the convicted sex offenders released to parole in 2003 were returned for a new sex offense over the course of a three year period of living in the community under parole supervision.

Alaska's prisons and sex offender therapy

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Most of the laws in this country, were based on this decision

New Sex Offender Recidivism Statistics Out Of California

Once again, a 3.5% recidivism rate

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Prosecution of 17-year-old offenders decried - Study finds adult court promotes recidivism

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Study finds adult court promotes recidivism

Wisconsin’s tough-on-crime policy of placing 17-year-old criminal offenders in adult court is a failed experiment that only increases the likelihood the teens will commit more crimes, according to a study released Tuesday.

The study by the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families also finds racial bias in the policy's implementation, citing statistics showing that African-American youth are far more likely to be incarcerated than white youths.

"It's become increasingly clear that trying youth as adults does not make communities safer," said Charity Eleson, executive director of WCCF, which describes itself as a nonpartisan child and family advocacy organization. "In fact, it appears to have the opposite effect."

The study looked at 1,000 17-year-old offenders with cases beginning Jan. 1, 2001. Their files were then reviewed through Sept. 1.

According to the study:

  • Some 70% of the teens were later convicted of another crime.
  • The highest recidivism rate - 80% - was found among teens who received jail sentences.
  • The lowest rate - 37% - was among teens who received deferred prosecutions; that is, cases in which prosecution is withdrawn if a teen successfully complies with programming and other conditions.
  • Among African-American teens, 80% were jailed or imprisoned while 19% were fined, placed on probation or received deferred prosecutions. Among white youths, 46% were jailed or imprisoned while 53% received fines, probation or deferred prosecution.

The study found 71% of African-American 17-year-olds were sentenced to incarceration for misdemeanors.

The results of the Wisconsin study are consistent with a report issued this month by the U.S. Department of Justice.

That report concluded that "transferring juvenile offenders to the criminal court does not engender community protection by reducing recidivism. On the contrary, transfer substantially increases recidivism."

The federal study suggested several reasons why juveniles tried as adults have higher recidivism rates, including the reduced focus on rehabilitation in the adult system, exposure of teens to adult criminals and the difficulty of finding employment with an adult criminal record.

"We need to re-look at the way we are treating our 17-year-olds," said Milwaukee Children's Court Judge Marshall B. Murray.
- You need to re-look at how you are treating all people!

Citing both the federal and the WCCF studies, he said: "We've learned from our experience, haven't we?"
- No, we never learn from history, we repeat it!

One potential problem with the WCCF study is that researchers could not determine the number of prior contacts teens in the study had had with the criminal justice system.

WCCF policy analyst Wendy Henderson, who wrote the report, said an attempt was made to make up for this deficiency by sampling an unusually large number of teens.

But Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm said that, in his experience, judges and juries tend to be reluctant to convict or incarcerate teens for minor crimes. Prior contacts with the system and the severity of the offense factor heavily in the equation.

Nonetheless, Chisholm said in principle he supports reopening Children's Court to 17-year-old offenders. For non-serious offenders, the adult system, he said, is simply not designed for their needs.

"The whole structure and intent of the juvenile system is to rehabilitate," he said. "Once they come to adult court, that just isn't what they do."
- Rehabilitation should be the goal of adults as well, not just children.  People can and do change, if you give them a chance.  But there is VERY LITTLE treatment in prisons, and that is a major problem!

Availing the juvenile system to 17-year-olds, Chisholm said, would require massive restructuring and resources.

"I do think it is the right thing," he said. "But it will require debate, planning and thinking. That hasn't been done yet."

Sex offenders unlikely to commit second crime

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More Detailed Article Here


SEX crime statistics tend to make depressing reading, but now there is some good news from the most populous state in the US. Just 3.2 per cent of more than 4000 sex offenders released on parole in 2002 were re-imprisoned for another sex offence in the subsequent 5 years, according to new figures from California.

While experts know that sex offenders are less likely to reoffend than most other criminals (New Scientist, 24 February 2007, p 3), the very low rate of re-imprisonment in the new study will challenge public perceptions about the risks these criminals pose.

The figures are broadly consistent with a 2007 Minnesotan study, which found that 3.2 per cent of sex offenders released from 1990 to 2002 had been re-imprisoned for a further sex crime within 3 years of their release.

What's more, sex offenders in Minnesota are even less likely to reoffend ...

Sex offender recidivism rates below expectations: more than 80% of sex offenders who underwent treatment did not reoffend. (15-Year Prospective Study)

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Publication: Clinical Psychiatry News

Author: Finn, Robert

More than 80% of sex offenders who have undergone treatment do not reoffend within 15 years, according to preliminary results of a 15-year prospective study of 626 individuals reported at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law.

The study did not examine the efficacy of various forms of treatment, but it did find that sexual offenders who were compliant with their treatment were less likely to reoffend than those who were noncompliant.

The results of the study were reported by Dr. Fred Berlin, who is director of the National Institute for the Study, Prevention, and Treatment of Sexual Trauma, Baltimore, and by Gerard J. McGlone. Ph.D., a clinical fellow at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore.

The results are "a far cry from what people often think is occurring, particularly with a group of patients who are this serious, people with multiple prior offenses, people with pedophilia," Dr. Berlin said. "The notion that most of these people would quickly be back into trouble was simply not true."

The preliminary 15-year data update the group's 5-year study of the same individuals (Am. J. Forensic Psychiatry 12[3]:5-28, 1991). That study found an overall 9.7% recidivism rate.

The estimated rate of additional recidivism for the following 10 years was 9.3%, for a total of 19% over 15 years.

Both studies followed 626 individuals treated at the Johns Hopkins sexual disorders clinic between 1978 and 1990. Of those, 406 were pedophiles, 111 were exhibitionists, and 109 were characterized as "sexually aggressive," with most diagnosed as "paraphilic disorder not otherwise specified" or antisocial personality disorder.

The patients underwent a variety of treatments at the clinic, including individual, group, and family therapy. Approximately 40% of the patients received an-tiandrogenic drugs in an effort to lessen their sex drive.

Investigators examined three local and national databases for evidence of recidivism in the 5-year study.

Anyone who was charged with a sexual crime was included; conviction was not necessary.

For the 15-year follow-up, investigators have so far examined only Maryland state databases and have not yet examined national databases.

The 5-year study showed that 7.4% of pedophiles, 4.6% of sexual aggressives, and 23.4% of exhibitionists reoffended sexually The 15-year study added an additional 8.6% of pedophiles (total 16%), 10% of sexual aggressives (total 14.6%), and 10.8% of exhibitionists, (total 34.2%), the investigators said.

For the 15-year study, investigators have not yet reported recidivism rates for compliant vs. noncompliant patients. These data were reported at the 5-year follow-up.

For pedophiles, 2.9% of the treatment compliant and 11.1% of the noncompliant reoffended sexually For sexual aggressives, 2.8% of the compliant and 8.1% of the noncompliant reoffended sexually

And for exhibitionists, 12.5% of the compliant and 32.6% of the noncompliant reoffended sexually

On the issue of exhibitionists, Dr. Berlin observed, "Even with treatment, this is a very driven, compulsive disorder. The good news, though, is that in almost every instance where there was recidivism, it was a non-hands-on offense.

"These people were not recidivating by doing other things. With very few exceptions they were exposing. ... The more dangerous patients, the ones who had been sexually aggressive or who were pedophiles, had the lowest recidivism rates.

Nonsexual recidivism rates were considerably higher in all groups. At the 5-year follow-up, 9.2% of compliant pe dophiles and 26.2% of noncompliant pedophiles were charged with a nonsexual offense such as burglary. Among sexual aggressives, the rates were 14% of compliant patients and 29.7% of non-compliant patients. And among exhibitionists the rates were 10.4% of compliant patients and 4 1.9% of non compliant patients.

The study's results have important public policy implications, Dr. Berlin said.

Over the years, for example, legislatures in all 50 states and the District of Columbia have passed numerous laws involving the civil commitment, registration, and community notification of sexual offenders.

In addition, a federal law that took effect recently requires the states to notify the public about sexual offenders who are enrolled or working at college campuses.

The idea behind these registries and public notifications is the notion that sexual offenders are difficult to rehabilitate and have a particularly high rate of recidivism. (See related story page 5.)

But the data show that sexual offenders actually have a lower rate of recidivism that those who commit other kinds of crimes.

And some experts speculate that these new laws just might have the unintended consequence of actually increasing the risk of recidivism.

"We think that many of the people who seem to be doing well in our treatment program have done well because they could get jobs," Dr. Berlin said. "They could fit into their community.

"We now have these registries. Are [sexual offenders who have been punished and released going to be able to get housing? Are they going to be able to get work? Are we inadvertently actually going to make it more difficult for some of these people?"

Sex offender recidivism less than other felons

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Publication: Chattanooga Times/Free Press (Chattanooga, TN)

Byline: Lauren Gregory

Those convicted of sex crimes in Tennessee are significantly less likely to reoffend than other types of felons, according to a recent study that experts say confirms what they have known for more than a decade.

"It goes against normal public perspective because people believe they are always going to reoffend," said Tim Dempsey, chief executive officer of the nonprofit Chattanooga Endeavors, which seeks to help those released from prison transition back into society. "But if you're just looking at risk, sex offenders have always been in that lower-risk category."

For the study, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation followed 1,116 male offenders for three years after their releases in 2001, according to TBI spokeswoman Kristin Helm. Half the offenders had been convicted of sex crimes and the other half nonsex crimes, Ms. Helm said.

Results were released in August, showing that 28 percent of the sex offenders were recommitted to the prison system, compared with 52 percent of other felons.

The sex offenders who were recommitted tended to remain on the streets longer before their next arrest, according to the study, which recorded statutory rapists, offenders who committed sexual battery and rapists as those with the highest rearrest rates.

Some skeptics wonder whether there are other factors affecting the reported dichotomy in repeat offense rates.

"They may offend less, or their victims may be less likely to report, as sex offenses are very difficult to prosecute," said Dr. Charlotte Boatwright, president of the Coalition of Domestic and Community Violence of Greater Chattanooga and coordinator of the Chattanooga Family Justice Alliance.

"Victims often feel that it is useless to report it, as their character is put on trial to distract from the case against the (perpetrator), and they are terribly revictimized in the process," Dr. Boatwright said. "Victims of sexual assault suffer the trauma for years, some for the remainder of their lives."

The study's findings echo results of two previous TBI recidivism studies, Ms. Helm said, one conducted in the early 1990s and a second in 1997.

In analyzing the results, she said, experts have pointed to an important difference between sex crime cases and other cases -- the fact that sex offenders might have less opportunity to reoffend because they spend more time behind bars.

"Sex offenders tend to 'flatten' their sentences," Ms. Helm said, citing the study. "Other felons tend to be let out on probation or parole."

This also means that sex offenders are more likely to be older upon their release, Mr. Dempsey noted.

"They're coming out at an older age, and that dramatically affects recidivism," he said.

Yet another variable is the intensive supervision involved after sex crime convictions, he said, both from the public and from the justice system.

"We require them to go through an awful lot of therapy, and it's not short term," Mr. Dempsey said. "In a lot of cases, it's lifelong, and they can't get out of it."

The state's approved sex offender rehabilitation program involves weekly therapy, according to Dr. H. James Meginley, whose practice, Alternatives Counseling Associates in Chattanooga, treats both offenders and victims of sex crimes.

The curriculum -- which takes about two years to complete -- includes work in communications, stress management, cognitive restructuring, personal relapse prevention and human sexuality, among other issues, Dr. Meginley said.

Mr. Dempsey acknowledged that some degree of recidivism likely will always be present among the convicted felon population, including among sex offenders. But with an overcrowded prison system, he said, there seems to be little choice in the matter.

"There's only one way of achieving (a zero repeat offense rate)," Mr. Dempsey said. "That's not to let them out at all."

Villifying Registered Sex Offenders (RSO's) increase recidivism

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Sex offenders are universally hated and despised and seen as dangerous sexual predators unless locked up and kept under surveillance. Following a number of highly publicized violent crimes, all states passed registration and notification laws and many passed civil commitment laws. Although these laws were passed as a means to decrease recidivism and promote public safety, the resulting stigmatization of sex offenders is likely to result in disruption of their relationships, loss of or difficulties finding jobs, difficulties finding housing, and decreased psychological well‐being, all factors that could increase their risk of recidivism. The civil commitment programs amount to expensive preventive detention and incapacitation rather than treatment; very few have been released. The high costs of the civil commitment programs divert resources from other programs with a better chance of being effective in reducing sexual violence.

Sex offenders are the most vilified group in society. People hate and despise them and think they should be locked up for life. Other criminals consider them too abominable to associate with. They are seen as dangerous sexual predators for whom treatment won’t work and who are at a high risk to reoffend. These beliefs are widespread, unsupported by facts, and have resulted in harsh laws specifically targeting sex offenders (Quinn, Forsyth, & Mullen‐Quinn, 2004). These laws are easily passed since it is politically dangerous to take any stance other than that of being tough on sex offenders. Such laws include central registries that exist in all 50 states, involuntary civil commitment laws in 16 states, and new laws in several states restricting where released sex offenders can live.

The focus is now on protecting society rather than individual rights. Janus (2004b) notes the paradigm of governmental social control has shifted from solving and punishing crimes to identifying “dangerous” people and depriving them of their liberty before they can do harm. I believe the net result of this may well be to increase rather than decrease recidivism of sex offenders and make society as a whole more dangerous rather than safer in terms of sexual violence.

Sex offenders are hated and reviled. Vilification of sex offenders has resulted in the passage of laws and sanctions that have broad public support, are politically advantageous to support, and give the illusion of increasing society’s safety from sexual violence. But there is no evidence they fulfill this promise. The registries, notification requirements, and housing restrictions make it far harder for sex offenders to turn around their lives and succeed in society. In such cases they may become more, rather than less likely to reoffend. Additionally, as Janus (2004a) points out, every dollar spent on these programs “is a dollar that could be spent on the much more ubiquitous, but relatively invisible, forms of violence against women and children” (p. 1250). But as long as sex offenders remain the most despised and vilified members of society, it is unlikely that any politician will have the courage to take a different stance.

Official press release from USDOJ on sex offender recidivism rates

Original Article



WASHINGTON, D.C. — Within 3 years following their 1994 state prison release, 5.3 percent of sex offenders (men who had committed rape or sexual assault) were rearrested for another sex crime, the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. If all crimes are included, 43 percent of sex offenders were rearrested for various offenses.

Sex offenders were less likely than non-sex offenders to be rearrested for any offense—43 percent of sex offenders versus 68 percent of non-sex offenders. But sex offenders were about four times more likely than non-sex offenders to be arrested for another sex crime (Of course they are, a non-sex offender has not committed a sex crime! This is misleading, and is what the people in the media & politics quote, taking it out of context!) after their discharge from prison—5.3 percent of sex offenders versus 1.3 percent of non-sex offenders.

Sex offenders with the highest rate of rearrest for another sex offense were those who had a history of prior arrests for various crimes. While 3.3 percent of sex offenders with one prior arrest were arrested for another sex crime after their release, that percentage more than doubled (7.4 percent) for those with 16 or more prior arrests for different types of crimes. Of the released sex offenders who allegedly committed another sex crime, 40 percent perpetrated the new offense within a year or less from their prison discharge.

Of the almost 9,700 sex offenders released in 1994, nearly 4,300 were identified as child molesters. An estimated 3.3 percent of the 4,300 released child molesters were rearrested for another sex crime against a child within 3 years. Most of the children they were alleged to have molested after leaving prison were age 13 or younger.

Other BJS surveys have shown that 70 percent of all men in prison for a sex crime were men whose victim was a child. In almost half of the child-victim cases, the child was the prisoner's own son or daughter or other relative.

The average sentence imposed on the 9,700 sex offenders was 8 years and, on average, 3 1/2 years of those 8 years were actually served prior to release. The average sentence imposed on the 4,300 child molesters was approximately 7 years and, on average, child molesters were released after serving 3 of the 7 years.

Of the released sex offenders, 3.5 percent were reconvicted for a sex crime within the 3-year follow-up period, 24 percent were reconvicted for any new offense and 38.6 percent were returned to prison, either because they received another prison sentence or because of a parole violation.

Of the 9,700 sex offenders, 67 percent were white males and 32 percent were black males. The percentage rearrested for another sex crime after their release was 5.3 percent of white males and 5.6 percent of black males.

Half of the 9,700 sex offenders were over the age of 35 when released. Recidivism studies typically find that the older the prisoner when released, the lower the rate of recidivism. However, although this study did find the lowest rearrest for a sex crime (3.3 percent) did belong to the oldest sex offenders -- 45 years old and older -- other age group comparisons were inconsistent. The percentage rearrested for another sex crime after their release was 6.1 percent of those ages 18-24, 5.5 percent of those ages 25-29, 5.8 percent of those ages 30-34, 6.1 percent of those ages 35-39, 5.6 percent of those ages 40-44 and 3.3 percent of those ages 45 or older.

For 85 percent of those sex offenders who were arrested for another sex crime, the arrest occurred in the same state that released them. For the remaining 15 percent, the arrest was in a different state.

The data are from a study that documented levels of recidivism among all 272,111 men and women released from state prisons in 15 states in 1994. The 272,111 included 9,691 male sex offenders. The 9,691 are two-thirds of all the male sex offenders released from state prisons in the United States in 1994. The study represents the largest followup ever conducted of convicted sex offenders following discharge from prison and provides the most comprehensive assessment of their behavior after release. The report, "Recidivism of Sex Offenders Released from Prison in 1994" (NCJ-198281), was written by BJS statisticians Patrick A. Langan, Erica L. Schmitt and Matthew R. Durose. Single copies may be obtained by calling the BJS Clearinghouse at 1-800-851-3420. Following publication this document can be accessed at:

For additional information about Bureau of Justice Statistics reports and programs, please visit the BJS Web site at:

The Office of Justice Programs (OJP) provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist crime victims. OJP is headed by an Assistant Attorney General and comprises 5 component bureaus and 2 offices: the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and the Office for Victims of Crime, as well as the Executive Office for Weed and Seed and the Office of the Police Corps and Law Enforcement Education. Information about OJP programs, publications, and conferences is available on the OJP Web site,

State Sex Offender Treatment Programs - 50 state survey

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Office of Executive Director
2862 South Circle Drive
Colorado Springs, CO 80906-4195
Fax: (719) 226-4700

November 1, 2000

Dear Criminal Justice Colleagues:

The Colorado Department of Corrections recently completed a survey of 50 states and the District of Columbia covering sex offender treatment and management programs. Areas surveyed included legislative influences on state programs as well as program structure within state prison systems. Many states also provided curriculum, assessment tools, standards of care and other materials used within their programs.

The survey consisted of twenty-one (21) pages containing seventy-eight (78) questions. Responses were received from forty-three (43) states and the District of Columbia, including Colorado. This vast research endeavor was conducted by Paula Wenger, a private consultant in Colorado.

The completeness of the survey report could not have been accomplished without significant effort from the responding states. I would like to thank the executive staff of each participating department of corrections for their willingness to support their program and research staff in working on the survey.

I believe you will find the nationwide scope of this document informative and useful in the further development of sex offender programs.


John W. Suthers
Executive Director
Colorado Department of Corrections

Recidivism: It's Not Open-and-Shut

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When New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte asked lawmakers to approve tougher penalties against sex offenders, she provided a familiar argument: Sex criminals are destined to strike again.

"I don't want you to be fooled," Ayotte told House legislators in January. Sex offenders "are committing the same type of offense over and over."

Such claims are typical in the public debate over whether to toughen penalties for those convicted of sex crimes. But they also distort a complex reality, according to experts who study how often sex offenders commit new crimes.

Recidivism rates for convicted sex offenders vary greatly, ranging from less than 5 percent to more than 50 percent, based on such factors as the victim's gender, the offender's relationship to the victim and whether the offender has received treatment, multiple studies have shown. In general, younger men who abuse boys they don't know have the highest risks of re-offending.

Taken as a group, about 14 percent of convicted sex offenders committed new sex crimes over a five-year period and about 20 percent did so over a 10-year period, according to Canadian researcher Karl Hanson's widely cited review of studies involving more than 4,700 offenders.

Recidivism rates for sex offenders drop for those who receive treatment to help them control their impulses and steer clear of dangerous situations, recent studies have shown.

In Vermont, for instance, correctional officials tracked 195 adult male sex offenders over a six-year period. The sexual re-offense rate for those who completed treatment was 5.4 percent, versus a 30 percent rate for those who refused treatment or did not complete it.

Dr. Fred Berlin, assistant professor of psychology at Johns Hopkins University and the founder of a sexual disorder clinic there, likened sex offenders to alcoholics. Alcoholics can be treated and learn to manage their disease.

Sexual offenders have "a craving disorder," he said. "It's not like an infection that can be cured." While treatment is not effective on everyone, he said, it appears to be more effective than the public may think.

"It's really a judgment where you have to look at the individual," said Berlin.

Therapy Program

Four hours a week, convicted sex offenders at the Vermont state prison in Springfield talk about the crimes they committed and the steps they can take to keep them from happening again.

The program is like others in Vermont and New Hampshire, giving criminals deemed at risk to re-offend the tools to keep themselves out of trouble.

Which sex criminals are most likely to re-offend?

Studies that tracked groups of sex offenders over their lifetimes found that 52 percent of diagnosed pedophiles who molested boys committed another sex crime while nearly 40 percent of rapists who targeted adult women offended again, according to the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abuse.

At the other end of the recidivism scale were the vast majority of sex criminals — 97 percent or more of offenders in New Hampshire and Vermont — who knew their victims.

Multiple research studies have found that between four and 10 percent of offenders who targeted children in their families committed new sex offenses after their convictions, the association says. By contrast, a 1995 study found that offenders who targeted boys unrelated to them had recidivism rates of 35 percent.

All this research comes with important caveats, most significantly that official recidivism rates in sex crimes are likely to be artificially low because a significant number of offenses are believed by experts to go unreported.

Getting at why some types of sex offenders are more likely to commit new crimes than others is difficult, said David Burton, an associate professor at Smith College who researches and treats sex offenders.

"Different sex offenders are driven by different things," said Burton. "Some of those things are deeper and more difficult to change."

Those offenders with antisocial tendencies, for instance, would be more likely to re-offend and more difficult to treat than those whose offenses were related to stress and inability to express themselves, he said.

The minority of child molesters who fit the psychiatric diagnosis of pedophilia are also more likely to re-offend, said social worker Mary Jane Egerton, who leads sex offender groups with West Central Services, an Upper Valley mental health agency.

Pedophiles, whose primary sexual attraction is toward children, have urges that are entrenched and difficult to change, she said. But most child abusers are not pedophiles, experts say. They are adults who are primarily attracted to other adults but who, for a variety of reasons, have used children to fulfill their needs.

And many in that group are adults who have used opportunity and access to abuse children who are family members, said Jill Levenson, a researcher at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla.

Such offenders do not face urges as ingrained as a pedophile's, said Levenson, making it easier for them to resist the impulse the next time around. Their re-offense rates also may be lower for a practical reason, she said: After they are convicted, they likely to lose easy access to their victims.

She added that even the subgroup of offenders who target minors to whom they are not related is diverse: Those offenders may include young men convicted of statutory rape for having sex with underage girlfriends, or men who have had sex with physically mature teenage girls whom they do not view as children.

"All sex offenders are not the same," Levenson said.

Sex offenders, taken as a whole, may be more "pro-social" than other types of criminals and embarrassed by people learning of their crimes, said Georgia Cumming, director of Vermont's sex offender program.

Given the widespread underreporting of sex crimes, she said, a significant number of sex offenders have likely had multiple victims by the time they finally get arrested. But she said that an arrest — and the public shame that comes with it — is for many offenders the "line in the sand."

Risk and Prison

How officials view a particular sex offender's risk of re-offending can have an impact on how much, if any, prison time he may get as well as the type of treatment program he may be required to complete.

The case of child molester Mark Hulett illustrated just how crucial the classification can be in some cases. Hulett, who knew his victim and had no previous convictions, was ranked as a low risk of re-offending in the pre-sentencing report that corrections officials performed. That designation made him ineligible at the time for in-prison treatment.

Judge Edward Cashman, however, said he believed Hulett needed treatment as soon as possible in order to not re-offend. In early January, he handed down the controversial 60-day minimum sentence, saying Hulett could then return to the community and get the treatment he needed. (Cashman later changed the minimum sentence to three years after the state announced plans to provide in-prison treatment to low-risk offenders.)

To determine the probability of offenders committing new crimes, experts use a combination of statistical models.

By those measures, sex offenders are assigned certain scores based on a number of risk factors, a method that is similar to the actuarial models long used by the insurance industry to determine, for instance, which drivers pose the biggest risk on the road.

The factors that lead to an offender being deemed "high-risk" include:
  • Male victims;
  • Stranger victims;
  • Prior sex offenses;
  • Lack of a cohabitation history with adult lovers.
"Can we perfectly predict?" said Levenson, the Florida researcher. "No, but we can do a pretty good job assessing the likelihood" of re-offending.

One state, Virginia, took into account such statistical predictions when it came up with sentencing recommendations for certain crimes. The Virginia Sentencing Commission, which proposes the optional sentencing recommendations to judges, used statistical models to predict the threat each offender poses once he or she is released.

Based on the statistical probability a sex offender will re-offend, the commission advocates increasing the recommended sentence. Under the commission's proposal, sex offenders who pose the biggest statistical risks would see their sentences triple, say, from the 10 years in the guidelines to 30 years.

Critics say Virginia judges are imprisoning people because of the probability that something might happen based on their statistical classification. Commission director Richard Kern said the statistical models give judges "tools based on research."

In both Vermont and New Hampshire, statistical models predicting offenders' risk levels can assist judges in making sentencing decisions. Experts conduct psychosexual examinations, for instance, to determine how much of a public safety risk the offenders would pose if they were to be placed on probation and receive treatment in the community.

Consider the case of Frederick Stebbins, a married, 58-year-old Quechee man who admitted recently to sexually assaulting a female minor whom he knew.

Egerton, the Lebanon clinical social worker, performed an evaluation at the request of the defense. Stebbins' scores on the statistical tests showed he has a low likelihood of re-offending, making him an appropriate candidate to receive treatment in the community, she testified in court.

Once offenders are sentenced to prison, corrections officials in both states again assess them to determine which treatment program they should participate in. The more intensive programs are reserved for the higher risk inmates.

No one claims the statistical measures are a guarantee, said Daniel Millis, the interim director of New Hampshire's sex offender treatment program. However, he said, "I think they're effective enough to give us a good idea."

And that's important, says Egerton, because most sex offenders do leave prison. Having an idea of their risk levels helps the probation and parole officers and community treatment providers get a sense of how best to help the offenders manage their risks.

"The public thinks sex offenders are terrible, lock them all up," she said. "But you can't afford to do that."