Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Writing a LETTER to Your Lawmakers in Washington DC: Representatives and Senators

7-31-2012 Washington DC:

Now, you can simply write a letter and mail it to them, send a e-mail to each of them, OR if you become a member of OpenCongress they have a slick way of letting you write a letter, and, they send it to your folks in Washington DC. You must setup a OpenCongress account with your correct personal information.

Here is an example of a letter composed by this fellow, he chose to make it public (you don't have to), and OpenCongress sent it to all of his folks in Washington DC. Yes, you enter your zip code as part of your address, and OpenCongress finds your lawmakers. (Click on pic to see that page)

Now if you look closely at the right side of the above screen, you will find that you can send it to your friends as well, and folks can comment on your letter too; of course only if you make it public. Follow the directions for doing that.

Apparently this fellow started by TRACKING this bill (H.R.3796 Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act of 2012) and opposed it, then chose to write a letter about it. All this is possible after you setup an account on OpenCongress.

Personally I think this is a GREAT FREE service, unfortunately you cannot get to ALL Lawmakers, just to yours.

There is a way to get to other Lawmakers but it is involved, and you can read about it HERE.

For now have a great day and a better tomorrow.

Once you have your account and find the bills you are interested in, say this HR3796 bill, you can see OpenCongress also TRACKS when blogs write about the bill. See References to eAdvocate on lower right side. Every little bit helps get the messages to folks in Washington, even if they don't listen.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Resolution on the Promotion, Protection, and Enjoyment of Human Rights on the Internet

7-5-2012 National:

Today, the UN Human Rights Council adopted by consensus a resolution (L13 — The Promotion, Protection and Enjoyment of Human Rights on the Internet) with the message that there can be no division or double standard regarding human rights online. The landmark resolution makes clear that all individuals are entitled to the same human rights and fundamental freedoms online as they are offline, and all governments must protect those rights regardless of the medium.

The free flow of news and information is under threat in countries around the world. We are witnessing an alarming surge in the number of cases involving government censorship and persecution of individuals for their actions online – sometimes for just a single tweet or text message.

This resolution is a welcome addition in the fight for the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms online, in particular the freedom of expression, as well as the freedoms of religion or belief, assembly and association, and the right to be free of arbitrary interference with privacy.

The United States was proud to work with the main sponsor, Sweden, and over 80 co-sponsors, including Brazil, Turkey, Nigeria, and Tunisia, to help pass this resolution. We will continue to stand with our partners to address challenges to online freedom, and to ensure that human rights are protected in the public square of the 21st century. ..Source.. by Press Statement
Hillary Rodham Clinton


The following is the text of Resolution L13 — The Promotion, Protection and Enjoyment of Human Rights on the Internet – adopted by consensus on by the Human Rights Council.

Human Rights Council
Twentieth session
Agenda item 3

Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development

Algeria*, Argentina*, Australia*, Austria, Azerbaijan*, Belgium, Bolivia (Plurinational State of)*, Bosnia and Herzegovina*, Brazil*, Bulgaria*, Canada*, Chile, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire*, Croatia*, Cyprus*, Czech Republic, Denmark*, Djibouti, Egypt*, Estonia*, Finland*, France*, Georgia*, Germany*, Greece*, Guatemala, Honduras*, Hungary, Iceland*, India, Indonesia, Ireland*, Italy, Latvia*, Libya, Liechtenstein*, Lithuania*, Luxembourg*, Maldives, Malta*, Mauritania, Mexico, Monaco*, Montenegro*, Morocco*, Netherlands*, Nigeria, Norway, Palestine*, Peru, Poland, Portugal*, Qatar, Republic of Moldova, Republic of Korea*, Romania, Serbia*, Slovakia*, Slovenia*, Somalia*, Spain, Sweden*, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Timor-Leste*, Tunisia*, Turkey*, Ukraine*, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland*, United States of America, Uruguay: draft resolution

20/… The promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet

The Human Rights Council,

Guided by the Charter of the United Nations,

Reaffirming the human rights and fundamental freedoms enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and relevant international human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,

Recalling all relevant resolutions of the Commission on Human Rights and the Human Rights Council on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, in particular Council resolution 12/16 of 2 October 2009, and also recalling General Assembly resolution 66/184 of 22 December 2011,

Noting that the exercise of human rights, in particular the right to freedom of expression, on the Internet is an issue of increasing interest and importance as the rapid pace of technological development enables individuals all over the world to use new information and communications technologies,

Taking note of the reports of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, submitted to the Human Rights Council at its seventeenth session,[1] and to the General Assembly at its sixty-sixth session,[2] on freedom of expression on the Internet,
1. Affirms that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, in particular freedom of expression, which is applicable regardless of frontiers and through any media of one’s choice, in accordance with articles 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;

2. Recognizes the global and open nature of the Internet as a driving force in accelerating progress towards development in its various forms;

3. Calls upon all States to promote and facilitate access to the Internet and international cooperation aimed at the development of media and information and communications facilities in all countries;

4. Encourages special procedures to take these issues into account within their existing mandates, as applicable;

5. Decides to continue its consideration of the promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights, including the right to freedom of expression, on the Internet and in other technologies, as well as of how the Internet can be an important tool for development and for exercising human rights, in accordance with its programme of work.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Child Abduction Myths

Host: What is the biggest myth about child abductions?

Nancy McBride; The biggest myth surrounding the issue of child safety is that the danger to children is greater from a stranger than from some body they know and this is an issue that we really need to retire, that whole stranger danger message.

It is not effective because kids do not get it, adults do not practice it and if the child is in a situation where they need help, they are surrounded by a sea of strangers, none of whom can help them, if they have been taught never talk to strangers.

The fourth reason why this is a myth is because the danger to children is far greater from somebody they or you as the parent or guardian know than from a random individual. So, we really need to take this safety message and put it in a museum and realize that it is not an effective way to teach kids about safety.

..Source.. by NCMEC

Monday, July 16, 2012

News Article Comments

News Article Comments:

As I read articles I often find interesting things, below are some of them:

Police Speaking in a Vigilante Manner

6-2-2013 Ohio Officer George Brocker says "The best place for a child molester is a tree limb."

Civil Commitment - Sexually Violent Predators (SVPs)

3-18-2013 Vashon child molester faces indefinite confinement
Under Washington law, county prosecutors or the state Attorney General’s Office can file civil lawsuits asking that convicted sex offenders be confined indefinitely at a Department of Social and Health Services facility, the Special Commitment Center.

Prosecutors are required to show that an offender is likely to commit another sex crime, and that the offender has a mental abnormality making him more likely than not to reoffend. If a jury or judge agrees with prosecutors, an offender can be sent to the McNeil Island facility.

The Special Commitment Center is home to about 300 men being held indefinitely. While several offenders have "graduated" from the program and more than a dozen others are living off the island, most remain at the facility. They make up about 1 percent of the sex offenders convicted in Washington courts.

Juveniles - Minors - Children

1-7-2012 Dealing with child-on-child sex abuse not one size fits all
Recent high-profile cases of child sex abuse have roused national revulsion against the adults who perpetrated them. Rarely mentioned is the sobering statistic that more than one-third of the sexual abuse of America's children is committed by other minors. (USA Today 1-7-2012)

See also: Juveniles Who Commit Sex Offenses Against Minors OJJDP Bulletin
Key findings from this Bulletin include the following:
---Juveniles account for more than one-third (35.6 percent) of those known to police to have committed sex offenses against minors [Full source pg-3 bottom: "Juvenile sex offenders comprise more than one-quarter (25.8 percent) of all sex offenders and more than one-third (35.6 percent) of sex offenders against juvenile victims (the group that is the focus of this Bulletin). As a percentage of all juvenile offenders, they do not constitute a large group—juvenile sex offenders account for only 3.1 percent of all juvenile offenders and 7.4 percent of all violent juvenile offenders. If other jurisdictions in the country were assumed to be the same as the NIBRS jurisdictions, one would extrapolate approximately 89,000 juvenile sex offenders known to police throughout the United States in 2004."].

---Juveniles who commit sex offenses against other children are more likely than adult sex offenders to offend in groups and at schools and to have more male victims and younger victims. ... ...

See also eAdvocate's Charts: Look closely at the chart that shows up -AND- the one below it!

7-27-2012 New law revokes second chance for teens with sex offenses

Now, for those seeking expungements of sex offenses, the clock is winding down. Act 91 is designed to comply with the state’s new Sexual Offenders Registration and Notification Act, which will re-quire juvenile sex offenders to register for the first time ever in Pennsylvania. But even juveniles who wouldn’t have to register will be blocked from expungement, notes Riya Shah, staff attorney at the Juvenile Law Center.

Nicole Pittman of Human Rights Watch says “a lot of these laws made in Harrisburg are meant to catch Philadelphia children.” Expungement efforts like the Defender Association’s, she says, caused “alarm for a lot of people, thinking that children that committed sex offenses were going to be hidden.”

Yet she says there’s no benefit to exposing them, because juvenile sex offenders are unlikely to re-offend as adults. The recidivism rate is estimated at between 3 percent and 7 percent.
“Juvenile sex offending is very different from adult sex offending, and this movement toward public notification … is trying to fit the solution that has been created for adults to juveniles,” says Shah. “It’s not a good fit.”

The Registry

7-23-2012 Officials say sex offender registry a useful tool

The original idea for a list of sex offenders in Kansas dates to 1993, when its two purposes were to provide law enforcement with a ready list of identifiers and information about sex offenders, as well as serve as a deterrent for the sex offenders to act again, knowing the authorities have all their information.

“If people are thinking that if I search my neighborhood, I’m going to see all the sex offenders, they are wrong. Because the vast majority of folks aren’t on the list.”
Take note of the two purposes for the registry, neither of which was to protect the public.

Police Access to Registrant's Home Computers

In the next article it appears officers -during a home address check- are somehow getting access to registrant's home computers. Maybe by simply asking registrants during the home address check. Assuming these registrants are not on parole or probation this appears to be a 4th Amendment violation, a properly executed search warrant is required before accessing anything in a registrant's home, including the computer. Is this happening now everywhere?
9-28-2012 Sex offender check nets 3 arrests
The checks allowed officers to verify addresses of registered offenders provided to state officials and that offenders do not have or use social media or email accounts. Officers also checked to make sure no drugs or firearms were in the homes of registered offenders.

10-1-2012 Changes planned for sex offender registry system

For Daggett, the crime could have been prevented “if we just had his cell phone or text messages. Once we saw his computer, and we did see everything, it was scary.”

“But it’s a privacy issue,” Daggett added. “And they’re (sex offender) not going to come up here and show us.”

Sebastian County Sheriff Bill Hollenbeck acknowledges that having access to sex offenders’ cellphones, text messages and Internet usage would be “a useful tool,” but that the information is currently a “Fourth Amendment and freedom of speech” issue.

“I’m a law enforcement officer and a peace officer and will enforce laws as they are, but that would be a useful tool. Would I like to see it? Sure, especially if they’re a very dangerous offender and the offense was initiated over a phone or the Internet,” Hollenbeck said.

Social Network Sites

7-16-2012 Social networks scan for sexual predators
"By some measures, internet-related sex crimes against children have always been rare and are now falling (as are reports of assaults on minors that do not involve the net). Most sex crimes against children are committed by people the children know, rather than strangers.

The US National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children processed 3638 reports of online "enticement" of children by adults last year, down from 4053 in 2010 and 5759 in 2009.

Even those companies with state-of-the-art defences spend far more time trying to stop online bullying and attempts to sneak profanity past automatic word filters than they do fending off sex predators."

Residency Laws

11-5-2012 Gardiner, Augusta consider restrictions on where sex offenders can live
Alysia Melnick, public policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, said restricting where sex offenders live can destabilize them by not allowing offenders to be close to members of their support systems and needed resources. On top of that, the restrictions can create a false sense of security for parents, she said, since predators usually choose victims close to them relationship-wise, not geographically.

"It's hard for us to understand why communities continue to push for this kind of restriction instead seeking to find real solutions that would actually impact the problem of sexual victimization," she said. Melnick added that research has shown no correlation between residential restrictions and a reduction in sexual abuse allegations.
7-31-2012 Police: Certain sex offenders are allowed inside schools

Although the thousand foot rule sounds good there are still loopholes. Detective Shimkus said the law needs to be revisited. "It sounds good and feels good but when you look at the big picture the overall picture it's it's very difficult for these offenders to find places to live. Because of that and I've always said before I'd much rather have an offender living near school as long as I know he's there, the school knows he's there and the neighborhood knows he's there that way everybody is watching him."

7-18-2012 Green Bay votes to keep sex offender residency ordinance, beefs it up

Brown County District Attorney David Lasse says there is no correlation to where a sex offender lives and where they would reoffend.

Sex Offender Treatment

2006 Recidivism: It's Not Open-and-Shut

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.
Note: See Also 2011 "Factors impacting recidivism in Vermont" and "Reducing Recidivism in Vermont"

7-26-2012 Montana counselor addresses sex offender treatment

Statistics from Montana Department of Corrections state that 2% of offenders who undergo treatment re-offend. Those without treatment: 26%.

Megan's Laws

Ted Koppel had this to say on Megans' law: "Good laws are almost never produced in the cauldron of public passion. The fact of the matter is that when we are angry, when our primary motive is punishment, we are impulsive and very rarely smart.

The Sicilians have a wonderful line which captures the essence of that: "Revenge," they say, "is a dessert best eaten cold." Passing a piece of legislation with a particular victim or, for that matter, criminal in mind is bound to prove less than satisfactory over the long haul.

Megan's Law may be trying to do too much. So much, in fact, that it's turning out to be unenforceable. That's neither fair to the convicted sex offender who's done his time and now has his sickness under control, nor is it providing any real protection to the most vulnerable among us. It needs to be fixed on both counts."

Ted Koppel, ABC Nightline, 2-5-04 Nightline: Address Unknown: Well-Intentioned Legislation Doesn't Always Produce Good Laws!

John Walsh & Others like him...

John Walsh: "Walsh told the critics that when he was talking to senators about electronic monitoring of sex offenders, "I said implant it in their anus and if they go outside the radius, explode it, and that would send a big message." Summer Press Tour, Day 16: An Explosive Interview 7-26-2006 (Washington Post article"

John Walsh generated a great deal of controversy during a summer press tour in 2006 when he stated to the media he jokingly told senators to implant "exploding" chips in the anuses of sex offenders. He stated, "I said implant it in their anus and if they go outside the radius, explode it, that would send a big message." Walsh stated this was a "joke," but that "nobody thought it was funny."[14] Walsh later suggested implanting GPS chips in such criminals.[15]

John Walsh also faced criticism when he advised women to never hire a male babysitter, which was seen as a blatantly sexist remark. "It's not a witch hunt," he said. "It's all about minimizing risks. What dog is more likely to bite and hurt you? A Doberman, not a poodle. Who's more likely to molest a child? A male."[16]

In his book Tears of Rage, Walsh openly admits being (UTube Biography Channel) in a relationship with 16-year-old Revé when Walsh was in his early 20s and aware of the age of consent being 17 in New York.[17] Critics of Adam Walsh Act have pointed out that, had he been convicted, Walsh himself would be subject to sex offender registration under the law which he aggressively promoted.
It is important to note "In a relationship" does not necessarily mean a "sexual relationship" of which I have not seen any proof of that. eAdvocate
Some critics accuse Walsh of creating predator panic by using his publicity.[18] Walsh was heard by Congress on February 2, 1983, where he gave unsourced claim of 50,000 abducted and 1.5 million missing children annually. He testified that U.S is "littered with mutilated, decapitated, raped, strangled children",[19] when in fact, later Department of Justice study from 1999 found only 115 incidences of stereotypical kidnappings perpetrated by strangers, of which about 50 resulted in death or child not being found.[20] Critics claim that Adam Walsh Child Resource Center, which started without funding in 1981, generated 1.5 million dollars annually following his testimony before the Congress.[19] Source:

More as I find them, if you know of some, let us know...


Friday, July 13, 2012

Contacting ALL Lawmakers in Washington DC: Representatives and Senators

7-13-2012 Washington DC:

Before I begin, if you are a registered former sex offender, you should ignore doing this because Facebook and other social networks either don't want you on their site, or possibly your own state has made it illegal for you to get on such sites. Please do not take any chances if your are a RSO; the Internet has a wonderful memory and I would not want folks to end up in jail.

However, with that said, even FSO's have family members who may very well have opinions which they want lawmakers to hear. Such family members, close or distant, please have your voices heard as you may be affected by what is being done to the FSO. And if you are no longer required to register please read on and act.

OK, we all know Lawmakers -for the most part- do not want to hear from people who are not their constituents so Lawmaker's e-mail systems filter out non constituents on any point they may want to make. Also, many Lawmakers are members of a Committee which is considering a bill affecting registered sex offenders, or their families collaterally. Virtually impossible to get to committee members either.

So is there a way to get messages to these Lawmakers? YUP!

It is important that EVERYONE has the ability to exercise their First Amendment Freedom of Speech right, especially on Political issues, and more importantly, issues affecting RSOs. It might take a few steps, but worth it to have your voice heard.

Here is how: Social Networks, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter etc. Most Lawmakers have a place one one or more of these, and they cannot filter-out non constituents. True they can ignore messages, but they folks they have monitoring them and reporting back to the Lawmaker will tell them of overwhelming negative responses.
Personally I feel the reason lawmakers don't want RSOs on social networks is, then they do not have to listen to their voices; sort of a quasi filtering method. Far too often child and public safety is used as a ruse for other purposes.
Here is what you do:
  • 1) Find the Lawmaker's website, they all have one; (See table below)
  • 2) Somewhere on their website there will be links to any social network they are part of, click on it;
  • 3) Put your message to them there. Yes you will need an account on that social network (be mindful of my opening warning to anyone who is not supposed to be on such sites).
As to Committees, you will need to know what committee the lawmaker is on, which you can get from his/her website. Then contact them as mentioned above.

Oh you say, this is too much trouble? Consider the effects on you and your family as the result of the legislation the lawmaker is pushing. Its your decision, try, or live with it. And remember, your voice may also help others you do not know! DECISION TIME!
U.S. HouseU.S. Senate
Represenatives WebsitesSenators Websites

Some things in life are hard, but at times that cannot be helped. Anyone with a better idea, I'm all ears.

OK, for now have a great day and a better tomorrow.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Real Estate Values -v- Registered Sex Offenders: Home Sale Prices Affected by Registrants or Unfounded FEARS?

Does the presence of sex offenders really affect the value of homes?

Reality is, registered sex offenders DO NOT affect home values whatsoever. Peoples' fears do! So, how does FEAR get into the sale of homes?
Suppose I were a real estate salesperson showing you a home, and said, there is a toxic waste site near here. Would you buy the home? The majority of folks would say "NO, not on your life." But, suppose I then told you, I meant the sewer that connects to the home. Right, your answer would change in a second.
Its all about perceived risks, fact versus fiction. Acceptable risks versus perceived risks!

Supposedly there are studies which prove, that the presence of registered sex offenders in a neighborhood, will reduce the value of the homes in that neighborhood. However, are those studies based on fact or fiction, we are about to reveal the loophole in known research (listed below).

Do sex offender registries display anything, that TODAY, proves a registrant is a person who must be feared? Or has the public been led -by Politicians and the Media- to believe ALL registrants should be FEARED? Never forget, today registries are bloated with folks that simply do not belong there. i.e., folks urinating in public, kids experimenting, Romeo & Juliet type cases and more.

Also, it is now well known that when lawmakers want to get a law passed, they couch it with fears about what life is like without the law. Every single sex offender law has been passed using, FEAR! "Perception, not crime, drives down property values," says a real estate salesperson (See source below).

"While sellers tend to sell their properties at substantially lower values when a registered sex offender lives nearby, they may not be lowering their sales price enough. Sellers and their agents may have difficulty estimating a property’s expected value if a sex offender is near. ..." Source below.
What? Manipulating prices BEFORE the sale, then the study is done AFTER the sale, and claims the sex offender caused the reduction! The sex offender did not reduce the price, the real estate person influenced the seller.
Are "FEARS" now being INTRODUCED into home sales, by law and the real estate industry to further their goals? Lets take a look! State laws; Smart Phone Apps; News Articles; Major Research Papers are all in "Supporting Research" below.

The answer is, yes, the real estate industry and law, are the ones inserting Unfounded FEARS into the sales of certain homes. Review the research below, draw your own conclusion, we feel you will agree, the claims that sex offenders caused the reduced values are FALSE! PS: Ask assessor's offices if they reduce values because of registered sex offenders, you will get a surprise! NO!

For now, have a great day and a better tomorrow.
Sex Offender Research, All Rights Reserved! © 2011

* * * Supporting Research * * *

State Laws Requiring Disclosure of Sex Offenders: Some states have laws requiring disclosure of sex offenders before the sale of a home. Does that legal requirement cause hysteria, affecting the minds of the buyers? Accordingly, the law itself may be affecting the sale of homes by implying there is something negative about the home, simply because of a registrant in some proximity to the home for sale.

Example: California Law: Department of Real Estate :
M. Data Base – Locations of Registered Sex Offenders:

Written leases or rental agreements for residential real property and contracts (including real property sales contracts as defined in Civil Code Section 2985) for the sale of residential real property of 1 to 4 dwelling units must contain, in not less than eight-point type, a notice as specified in paragraph (1), (2), or (3):

(1) A contract entered into by the parties on or after July 1, 1999, and before September 1, 2005, shall contain the following notice:

Notice: The California Department of Justice, sheriff’s departments, police departments serving jurisdictions of 200,000 or more, and many other local law enforcement authorities maintain for public access a database of the locations of persons required to register pursuant to paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 290.4 of the Penal Code. The database is updated on a quarterly basis and is a source of information about the presence of these individuals in any neighborhood. The Department of Justice also maintains a Sex Offender Identification Line through which inquiries about individuals may be made. This is a “900” telephone service. Callers must have specific information about individuals they are checking. Information regarding neighborhoods is not available through the “900” telephone service.

(2) A contract entered into by the parties on or after September 1, 2005, and before April 1, 2006, shall contain either the notice specified in paragraph (1) or the notice specified in paragraph (3).

(3) A contract entered into by the parties on or after April 1, 2006, shall contain the following notice:

Notice: Pursuant to Section 290.46 of the Penal Code, information about specified registered sex offenders is made available to the public via an Internet Web site maintained by the Department of Justice at www.meganslaw.ca.gov. Depending on an offender’s criminal history, this information will include either the address at which the offender resides or the community of residence and ZIP Code in which he or she resides.

See also this article from The California Association of Realtors.

State Laws Exempting Disclosure: A recent National Association of Realtors survey revealed that only 16 states have exempted real estate licensees from sex offender related disclosure responsibilities: Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Wyoming. See "Megan's Law: New Risks for Real Estate Licenses?"

Realtors Use Smart Phone Apps: It has also been reported that some real estate sales folks actually use iPhone Apps -BEFORE A SALE- to show folks involved in a sale, where local sex offenders live. And it must be noted that those iPhone Apps are frequently out of date, incomplete and the data mined from illegal entry into state registries. The vendors of these apps even admit they are using a "Private Database" which they have created sometime in the past, and may not be updated as frequently as state registries.
"Lacy Williams, a Realtor with Joyner Fine Properties in Richmond, said she has an application on her smartphone that allows her to show the list of offenders to prospective clients." Sex offenders as neighbors a realty factor Virginia 8-11-2010

Real Estate Agent Quote In News Article: "Perception, not crime, drives down property values!"
The Wagners have lived in their same home for 26 years and they’re raising their daughter, a freshman in high school, in the neighborhood. “We’re raising our daughter here and if we felt it was unsafe, we wouldn't be here,” Deb said.

But Deb Wagner is also a real estate agent and does most of her business in North Minneapolis. When potential buyers get their hands on a real estate contract, they are notified that they should check the area for sex offenders on the DOC Web site.

It’s mentioned several times in real estate contracts” she said. “For people to disregard that, it takes somebody pretty unusual. Unless they’re not super paranoid about that, but who isn't when you mention sex offenders? Especially if you’re planning to move into a community with your children.”

The recidivism rate for sex offenders is 12 percent, which is lower than for other criminals, according to Minnesota Department of Corrections 2007 study. “It creates a perception that this is not a safe place to live,” Wagner said. (Finding new homes for sex offenders 2-28-2011)

Research Studies Claim: The presence of local sex offenders makes the value of the home less. All of this research has been using data AFTER the sale, and after the sale price has been manipulated. They are assuming the reason is, because of the presence of sex offenders to the home sold. No research has investigated "TACTICS" used in selling the home.

Certainly it is easy to scare a seller into reducing a selling price, saying the sex offender over there is the cause, but in reality, the home is still assessed a certain amount by the assessor's office and they do not change assessments because a sex offender moves close to a home. Fear is being used as a tool, fear is "undue influence" and that is well known in real estate law! Lets review the main studies being quoted:
Study-1: "Estimating the Effect of Crime Risk on Property Values and Time on Market: Evidence from Megan’s Law in Virginia" (Brastow 2010)claims that homes have a lesser value because of local sex offenders. However, buried with that study is this comment:
"From the Study" p-9: "While sellers tend to sell their properties at substantially lower values when a registered sex offender lives nearby, they may not be lowering their sales price enough. Sellers and their agents may have difficulty estimating a property’s expected value if a sex offender is near. That is, a reduced offer price may not attract enough potential buyers, resulting in a longer marketing duration of the home. Table 4 shows that homes located near (within .1 mile of) a registered sex offender spend abut 10% more time on the market. This works out to be about 13 days longer on the market than other similar properties, which are also competitively priced. In relative terms, this is roughly equivalent to selling your home in the “off” season of fall or winter (as compared to the summer or spring)."

That portion of the study shows, "Sellers and their Agents" are influencing the sale price of the home BEFORE placing it on the market. Method: FEAR! Why are real estate agents even suggesting lowering the sale price?

Study-2: "There Goes the Neighborhood? Estimates of the Impact of Crime Risk on Property Values From Megan’s Laws" (Linden 2006) This study uses the "Fear of Crime" but never shows that there is any rise in crime when sex offenders move in, or where they lived before. Fear is its focus.

From the study: In response to the fear of crime, residents generally have two options: they can vote for anti-crime policies, or they can vote with their feet. i.e., move..... In this paper, we combine data from the housing market with data from sex offender registrations to estimate individuals’ valuation of living in close proximity to a convicted sex offender. By exploiting both the timing of move-in and the exact locations of sex offenders, we can improve on past estimates of individuals’ responses. The exact location of these offenders then allows us to exploit variation in the threat of crime within small homogeneous groupings of homes. The timing of a sex offender’s arrival allows us to confirm the absence substantive pre-existing differences in property values and to control for the remaining minor differences. Our study is the first to exploit both inter-temporal and cross-sectional variance in the presence of an offender, but not the first to exploit the cross-sectional variation alone. Larsen et al. (2003) examine the cross sectional relationship between property values and proximity to sex offenders using a single year of data from Montgomery County, Ohio. They find a reduction in housing prices of 17% within a tenth of a mile of an offender’s home, and find significant changes in price up to a third of a mile. Although their study is similar to ours in the empirical question it addresses, their empirical strategy suffers from the same potential biases mentioned above.

Throughout this study they talk of the "threat of crime" and use studies of areas where there was crime, but never do they show any crime where the targeted sex offenders lived.

Again we see "fear" being used, and who placed the fear in front of the sellers to induce them to lower their sale price? I doubt very much anyone selling a home, would on their own, say, "Oh, there are sex offenders in the neighborhood, so I'll lower the selling price." This is not the seller's mind, it is being placed before them by someone BEFORE the sale.

Study-3: "Estimates of the Impact of Crime Risk on Property Values from Megan’s Laws" (Linden 2008) Here again, "Fear of Crime" is the focus, but here they introduce "Property Crimes" and localize the fear. Like the earlier study, they never show that any of the crime was found before or after the sex offenders moved in, which might by itself cause someone to lower their selling price.

From the Study: Crime is predominantly a local issue. The majority of both violent and nonviolent offenses takes place less than one mile from victims’ homes, and most government expenditures on police protection are local ..... Understanding the relationship between property values and local crime risk is useful for measuring the willingness of individuals to pay to reduce their exposure to crime risk. This, in turn, can help determine the appropriate level of public expenditures that reduce crime, such as police services. A number of papers have documented an inverse relationship between property values and local crime rates. In one of the earliest studies, Richard Thaler (1978) finds a negative relation between property crimes per capita and property values. His estimates imply that a one standard-deviation increase in the incidence of property crime reduces home values by about 3 percent. A more recent study by Steve Gibbons (2004) finds a decrease in property values of 10 percent for a one-standard-deviation increase in property crime. Over time, crime rates may change as the composition and characteristics of neighborhoods change. Reductions in crime levels may correspond to other changes that increase the value of property located in a particular neighborhood.

Here their focus is on "local crime rates" but they do not show that any crime rate increases or decreases because of the presence of local sex offenders. The study creates the perception that there is a local crime rate when there is none mentioned with respect to the area where the sex offenders lived.

Sex Offender Research, All Rights Reserved! © 2011

* * Research Papers on this Topic * *

"Estimating the Effect of Crime Risk on Property Values and Time on Market: Evidence from Megan’s Law in Virginia" (Brastow 2010)

Fear of Crime and Housing Prices: Household Reactions to Sex Offender Registries (Pope 2008)

"Estimates of the Impact of Crime Risk on Property Values from Megan’s Laws" (Linden 2008)

"There Goes the Neighborhood? Estimates of the Impact of Crime Risk on Property Values From Megan’s Laws" (Linden 2006)

The effect of proximity to a registered sex offender's residence on single-family house selling price.(features) (Larsen 2003)

"The Impact of Megan’s Law on Real Estate Values" (Bell 1998)


Sex Offender Research, All Rights Reserved! © 2011