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?