Sex Offenders and the Willfully Ignorant, part 1
I am exasperated beyond expression at the willfully ignorant. They reject empirical evidence (based on observed results rather than theory) contradicting their opinion and the end result of their obstinacy is that children and society are less secure. Emotionally generated perceptions originated by poor science and reinforced by media catering to our emotions rather than informing with fact, impel legislators to make decisions with incomplete or biased information. Their reactionary efforts may provide a vent for outrage; but the sexual abuse, abduction, rape and murder of children always continue. Many declare that if a law saves one child, it was just. But what if, in saving one, another or many are endangered?
The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles found that each time an offender moves, the likelihood that they will reoffend increases 25%. Just this month; Matthew Cate, Secretary of California's Board of Corrections and Rehabilitation, reported that more than 2100 sex-offender parolee/probationers are transient and another 900 are "at large". Prior to enacting residency restrictions in California, fewer than 100 sex offenders were homeless state-wide. In a paper issued by the Iowa County Attorneys Association (prosecutors), it was reported that the number of "missing" sex offenders nearly tripled after state-wide residency restrictions were implemented. Additionally, the same report revealed a "significant" decrease in the number of sex offenders who confess or agree to plea bargain and, consequently, fewer being held accountable for their crimes. Other states, among which were Florida, Indiana, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Kansas and Kentucky are finding similar unintended consequences
The Jacob Wetterling Resource Center issued a statement that concluded with "Because residency restrictions have been shown to be ineffective at preventing harm to children, and may indeed actually increase the risks to kids, JWRC does not support residency restriction laws." Minnesota found that " . . . over the last 16 years, not one sex offender released from a MCF (Minnesota Correctional Facility) has been reincarcerated for a sex offense in which he made contact with a juvenile victim near a school, park, or daycare center close to his home." The Colorado Department of Public Safety in 2004 found that sex offenders who committed subsequent sex crimes did not reside closer to venues frequented by children than those sex offenders who were not repeat offenders.
There are a multitude of state and independent empirical studies clearly and conclusively identifying instability in housing, employment and/or social support as foremost predictors for repetitive criminal activity. The vast majority of sex-offender legislation destabilizes one or more of those areas, increasing the likelihood that a sex-offender will repeat their crime. These laws endanger as many or more children than could be argued, against evidence, they might protect.
- Applied Research Services, Submitted to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, Enhancing Parole Decision Making Through the Automation of Risk Assesment, April 29, 2003
- John Simerman, Contra Costa Times, Sex Offender Agency Faults Megans Law Drawbacks, Copyright © 2010 - San Jose Mercury News
- Iowa County Attorneys Association, Statement on Sex Offender Residency Restrictions in Iowa, December 11, 2006.
- Jacob Wetterling Resource Center, Does JWRC support laws that prohibit sex offenders from living within a certain distance from schools, parks, or daycare centers?
- Minnesota Department of Corrections, Residential Proximity and Sex Offense Recidivism in Minnesota, April 2007.
- Colorado Department of Public Safety Division of Criminal Justice Sex Offender Management Board, REPORT ON SAFETY ISSUES RAISED BY LIVING ARRANGEMENTS FOR AND LOCATION OF SEX OFFENDERS IN THE COMMUNITY