Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Indiana Sex Offender Statistics: How to make good statistics look bad

2-13-2013 Indiana, National:

OPINION: Vigilantism?

Nothing is more frustrating than to read a recidivism study and see negative comments about sex offenders, and then find out that the study shows a low recidivism rate for sex offenders. Its as if the study authors, required to do the study, have a grudge towards sex offenders and searched for a way to make them look worse than other offenders.

They did, using technical violations. But are technical violations new crimes? No! So the authors claim to do a study about recidivism rates, which the world thinks means new crimes, and the study is really about who commits the most technical violations, not new crimes.

The Study in Question: Indiana's Recidivism Rates Compared 2005 to 2007

Quote from Study: "The findings of this comparative report are extremely exciting; recidivism rates are decreasing in the State of Indiana." Then we see "Overall, offenders identified as a sex offender who were released in 2002, 2003, or 2004, returned to IDOC at a higher rate than all other offenders. (pg-7)"

Reality: This study, once you understand how they confuse folks, shows that sex offenders have the lowest (same crime) recidivism rate.

Indiana Defines Recidivism: The Indiana Department of Correction defines Recidivism as an offender’s return to incarceration within three (3) years of their release date from a state correctional institution. Once released, an offender is verified as a Recidivist if they return to the institutional custody of the Indiana Department of Correction for a new conviction or a technical violation of post-incarceration supervision (pg-5).

Discussion: First we must point out that the breakdown of crime types is the oddest we have ever seen (pg-14). Weapons a crime type? Anywhere else weapons are not a crime type, true crimes are committed with weapons, but the weapon is not a crime type. Very odd comparison.

Charts will help us: Excepting the "Totals" lines, all numbers were copied into these charts from pages 12, 21 and 22. The numbers for "Other Offenders" are adjusted downward, by the IDOC separately reported numbers for sex offenders, so that we could do this comparison.

Offender TypeYear# of Offenders#+% Ret for Tech Violations#+% Ret for New Crimes# Ret this year#+% Ret for new Sex Crime (pg-22)
Sex Offenders2002764274 (35.8%)65 (8.5%)33918 (5.3%)
2003893284 (31.8%)98 (10.9%)38220 (5.2%)
2004845272 (32.1%)115 (13.6%)38722 (5.7%)
Total:2502830 (33.1%)278 (11.1%)1,10860 (5.4%)

Offender TypeYear# of Offenders#+% Ret for Tech Violations#+% Ret for New Crimes# Ret this year#+% Ret for Same Crime (IDOC Doesn't Report This)
Other Offenders200211,0452,009 (18.1%)2,286 (20.6%)4,295?????
200312,0762,082 (17.2%)2,547 (21.0%)4,629?????
200412,8061,998 (15.6%)2,773 (21.6%)4,771?????
Total:35,9276,089 (16.9%)7,606 (21.1%)13,695

Since the study focus is on "Technical Violations" one would expect some definition of them, or examples; nothing is found in the study, not even any detailed discussion. Why? All we can see is, sex offenders have more of them -by percentages only- than other offenders; 33.1% to 16.9% respectively. However, -by the numbers- significantly lower than other offenders; 830 to 6,089. If there is any reason to focus on technical violations, I'd certainly be more concerned with higher numbers than higher percentages. See charts.

Recidivism rates for new crimes should be the focus; sex offenders have half as many as other offenders -by the percentages- and about -27 times fewer- than other offenders; 11.1% and 21.1%, -and- 278 crimes to 7,606 crimes. This study focuses on the wrong thing to make society safer.

Then pg-22 tells the real story, sex offender recidivism rate -same crime- is 5.4% over the three years of this study.

The "Quote from the Study" above (pg-7) is way off base, misleading and further damages sex offenders, unnecessarily.

Need anymore be said?


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Sex offenders are on the move

(Part) FACTOID & (Part) TRUTH:
Even though there are several problems within this study (see highlights below), it does show that a significant number of registrants are moving. Given that fact, one would think the study authors would want to know why, but they ignore that and draw conclusions based on, yet undetermined, not apparent in the study! While the technology used to record movement is valid, it must also include all the facts before drawing conclusions, here missing!
January 2013:

Geospatial technologies help track real-time movements of sex offenders

Convicted sex offenders continue to move freely within communities, including in restricted areas, despite laws designed to limit their movements. A new study, by Alan Murray from Arizona State University and colleagues, uses new tracking techniques to better understand the actual movements of sex offenders. This information can help develop effective strategies to promote public safety. The findings are published in a new book, Crime Modeling and Mapping Using Geospatial Technologies, published by Springer.

Sexual offenses, especially those committed against children, are of concern to both the public and policy makers. In response to these concerns, local, state and federal legislators in the US have passed a series of laws designed to reduce interaction between children and these potentially dangerous individuals. To date, the vast majority of research on sex offenders and residence restrictions deals with issues of housing availability and affordability. Very little work has focused on sex offender mobility, and residence trends in particular.

Murray and his team analyze sex offender residential movement patterns over a two and a half year period in Hamilton County, Ohio.  They used geographic information systems and a developed exploratory system (SOSTAT)* to uncover spatial behavioral patterns, which give important insights into offender reintegration, their mobility within communities and the implications of restrictions on both offenders and the community.

Their analyses showed that sex offenders appear to be a very mobile group. Over the two and a half year period, 65 percent of registered offenders changed residences. Although there was a noticeable trend towards fewer offenders living in restricted zones overall, worryingly, nearly a third moved from non-restricted areas into restricted zones.
The first flaw in this study is, authors ignore why there is movement? Authors simply make conclusions. Interestingly is, if 1/3 moved into restricted zones, in reality they would have been arrested. So what is the authors' definition of "restricted zones," were those zones actually covered by a local law? Did the authors arbitrarily create zones they believed should be covered by a law? Are the police not arresting registrants if they move into a restricted area -covered by a law-? All questions unanswered by the authors!
The authors conclude: "Over the years, changes in laws governing post-release activities of offenders were designed to monitor and track this group of individuals. Our study highlights that, despite these increasingly stringent laws, sex offenders move freely about communities and continue to reside in restricted residential areas. This mobility suggests that current policies may require modification to achieve their intended goals."
It appears these authors believe, that the purpose of registries is to prevent registrants from moving into any community. History has shown that the purpose of registries is, simply to know where registrants live in communities, not to prevent them from moving into communities, or from moving when they have a reason to do so (Often because of harassment or newly enacted laws [Remember, authors ignored looking at why registrants move])!
This example of the value of spatial analysis for crime analysis is featured in a new book Crime Modeling and Mapping Using Geospatial Technologies edited by Michael Leitner of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge (USA). The book tackles various types of crime and places them in a geospatial context. As well as posing interesting questions on crime in such a context, the chapters also discuss applications and implementations of geographic information systems.

*Key components of SOSTAT include a map-based display, linked graphics, statistical measures and optimization models. ..Source.. by Springer

Friday, February 1, 2013

Why Are Cops Asking for Twitter, Google User Data?


We now know for certain that police are tracking us on social media. First Google put out its report on police requests for user data, and now Twitter has also released its numbers. The number of requests for both platforms is high.

Both companies also noted that while some requests come with a warrant, many more come with a subpoena that doesn't require a judge's approval.

We know that police want the information, and in many cases they're able to get it. So what are they looking for in your social media accounts?

Not to merely state the obvious, but they're looking for information that's not open to the public. Setting your posts to "private" won't keep them away from police.

As for the specifics, police are generally looking for evidence of crime in their current investigations. Those may be linked to a specific charge, or they may be part of an effort to arrest a suspect.

It's not just the content of your posts that are useful although those can obviously provide evidence of a crime. They're also looking for other things such as:
  • Aliases or nicknames. To determine if you're linked to a crime by an alternate name.
  • Location information. IP addresses where you log in or make posts can tell police where you were at any given time.
  • Contact information. Your email addresses and phone numbers may be tied to a crime. Through a data request police can find what accounts you're using.
  • Known associates. It might not be you that police are looking for, but rather your friends. Your online connections could be evidence or the basis of an investigation.
It seems that Twitter and Facebook are making police work for this information, but that doesn't necessarily mean all social media platforms will. It also won't stop police from getting information if they have a warrant or a valid court order.

The best course of action is to stop thinking about social media as private space. What you say online can have a lasting impact because it can't be easily erased.

Police aren't going to stop making requests for user data, and social media platforms can't always say "no" under the law. So take control and make your profile less interesting to law enforcement. ..Source.. by Deanne Katz, Esq.