Thursday, September 27, 2012

Do Registries Help?


While law enforcement groups have championed SORNA and cheerlead for compliance in every state, some counter that more stringent sex offender laws and longer registration periods could violate offenders’ constitutional rights.

SORNA’s three-tier registration system lumps statutory rape convicts with violent sexual predators, attorney Katherine Godin of the Rhode Island American Civil Liberties Union noted in a May 12 memo to state lawmakers there.

“Under the (Adam Walsh Act), an 18-year-old who has sex with his 15-year-old girlfriend will be branded a sex offender for the rest of his life and will be seen as posing the same threat to the community as someone who commits rape or first-degree child molestation,” Godin wrote in the memo.

States toughening their treatment of convicted sex offenders may lull residents into a false sense of security, the Rhode Island ACLU argues, by ignoring the statistical likelihood that children will be abused by a family member or close family friend.

“In fact, this community notification system distorts the fact that most sex crimes are not committed by some scary man lurking in the bushes,” Godin wrote. “Instead, 97 percent of child sex abuse victims up to 5 years old knew the offender prior to the offense.”

Academic studies show that offenders placed on public registries reoffend at roughly the same rate as those convicted before the registries were maintained, said M. Lyn Exum, an associate professor of criminal justice and criminology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

“I think there is this scarlet-letter stigma that is carried with this, and whether that’s good or bad, that’s a moral judgment,” Exum said. “There’s not compelling scientific research to show that individuals on sex offender registries have lower recidivism rates.”

Studies show that 5 percent of registered sex offenders will be convicted of another sex crime within three years of their registration. In a 15-year span, about a quarter of sex offenders will reoffend.

In some studies, the number of registered offenders convicted of a subsequent sex offense was slightly lower than the number of non-registered offenders.

“Those on the registries do offend less, but it’s a very small percentage,” Exum said. “In the research world, we say those percentages are not statistically significant.”

Nearly half of registered sex offenders said being listed on a public registry has limited their job prospects and cost them friendships, according to self-reported survey data.

“A significant minority report being attacked — being tracked down and confronted in such a way that they were physically assaulted,” Exum said.
Maybe Dr Exum needs to see these blogs: RSO/SO Murders/Killings -and- RSO/SO Vigilantism
While the public may need information about sex offenders in their communities, some scholars and civil liberties groups say those offenders deserve the opportunity to turn their lives around.

“In some ways, you’re sort of cutting off your nose to spite your face,” Exum said. “You’re putting these people on a registry and making it harder for them to reintegrate, which could increase the chance that they recidivate.” ..Source.. Opinions of attorney Katherine Godin of the Rhode Island American Civil Liberties Union - and- Dr. M. Lyn Exum University of North Carolina at Charlotte