Monday, April 1, 2013

VA - Virginia's Roanoke Times: Point and Counterpoint Editorial, on the sex offender registry

Click the image to view the article


kikipt said...

The third paragraph of Mr. Stanley's article is a perfect example of how easy it is to manipulate data through careful wording in order to incite fear and dread from the reader:

"approximately 21 percent of those currently confined for either rape or sexual assault had been on parole or probation at the time they committed their offense"
-It does not say that they were necessarily on parole or probation for a sex-related offense!

"after their release, the recidivism rate of sex offenders for subsequent criminal offenses of all types is nearly 43 percent."
-This is primarily because so many "offenses" have been added to the books relating to registration, etc. Of course this could include virtually any infraction of the law. He does not say that these are sex-related offenses, but that is clearly the impression he is trying to impose on his readers.

"Shockingly, of those released sex offenders who were accused of another sex crime, 40 percent were arrested within a year of their release."
-this is a meaningless statistic, since we do not know from this statement how it relates to the statistics previously cited. The previous sentence mentions "sex-offenders" being arrested for ANY criminal infraction. We do not know what percentage of those are sex-related. If the number is low, say even 30% of the 43% mentioned, then 40% of that number is only about 5% of the original. That is an extremely low rate. Yet the implication of the article is that it is very high, hence the use of the word "shockingly."

So how much money is this politician getting from the lobbies of the prison industrial complex?

TB said...

Here is a comment I submitted on this article at the Roanoke Times website. Twice - Sunday afternoon and Monday morning. It was not published.


Senator Stanley, with all due respect - rarely have I read a a weaker argument in support of a particular position. In general, your entire piece consists of a general overview of basic registry stats and figures, like numbers and administrators. Exactly what is the compelling reason behind those?

Since this op ed piece is published with your name and photo on it, I would assume you have crafted it yourself with care so please allow me to demonstrate how incorrect or misleading your assertions are.

"Sex offender registries are relatively new legal instruments used by states, including Virginia, in the war against sexual predators" - factually incorrect. The largest registry in the country was started in California in the mid 1940s. It contains 100,000 individuals, some with convictions dating back to the early 1950s, the CA registry being lifetime even for the most minor offenses (including misdemeanors). Okay, "relatively new" is subject to interpretation. It was not around in the frontier days.

"after their release, the recidivism rate of sex offenders for subsequent criminal offenses of all types is nearly 43 percent. Shockingly, of those released sex offenders who were accused of another sex crime, 40 percent were arrested within a year of their release." - this is a very clever subliminal connection between two stats which are entirely irrelevant of one another.

1. yes, the recidivism rate for registered sex offenders for all crimes is higher than all other criminal populations. But - this includes ALL crimes - by far the largest percentage of which being "Failure to Register" crimes - an obligation NO other group is subjected to. I (not on the list) would not last 6 weeks before running afoul some absurd restriction. In many states moving about public places is a crime.

Government study after Government study shows that the recidivism rate for new SEX crimes is extremely low (in the 2-5%).

Bringing us to your second point.

2. yes, 40% of those arrested (arrested, NOT convicted - your words) for a new SEX crime, around 5% of registrants, will do so within a year of their release. Again, 40% arrested within one year, of 5% overall. Do you really find this a compelling argument for a resources sucking registry for a lifetime?

"One only has to watch the nightly news to see that sexual offenses by predators are on the rise." - did you really just say that you make such legislative decisions, spending vast amounts of tax payer money based on watching the nightly news? Heaven help us all. The invent of the registry in many states has had no impact on instances of sex crimes - before or after.

My favorite point is the one you make at the end: " the registry is not the be-all -and -end-all in the battle to deter and punish sex crimes". At least you admit that the sex offender registry is punishment. However, the only reason you get to continue using it to further your political career by sponsoring sex offender legislation that affects people already on this list is that the Supreme Court decided it is NOT punishment, but a regulation. Your honesty here is refreshing, indeed.

I would love to read your response to my points above. I am also very interested in hearing exactly how the registry is supposed to PREVENT sex crimes.