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Supervision in Cyberspace
By Art Bowker, Cybercrime Specialist
Published: 11/09/2009

Enterpassword Almost two years ago the article “Supervising the Cyber-offender: Are you ready?” appeared on Corrections.com detailing the need to get ready for the cyber-offender. There have been significant changes since that article appeared reflecting the growing community corrections role in cyberspace.

A contributing factor to this trend was the publication on July 2, 2008 of registration regulations implemented by the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking required by the Adam Walsh Act of 2006 . These regulations mandated that Internet identifiers, such as e-mail addresses and profiles, were to be disclosed by sex offenders as part of the federal registration requirements. Later, the Keeping the Internet Devoid of Sexual Predators Act of 2008, also known as the KIDS Act of 2008, further solidified the disclosure of Internet identifiers as a Congressional mandate.

States hoping to maintain funding began to incorporate these disclosure requirements into their sex offender registration laws. As of July 2009, approximately twenty-five states had laws mandating Internet Identifiers be included in registration. Additinally, at least nine states (FL,GA, IN, IL, MN, NH, NJ, NV, and OK) now require computer conditions/restrictions for sex offenders on probation/parole.[1]

Previously, some officers were limiting their efforts to either doing periodic searches for or of a computer and/or installing monitoring software. These practices were usually reserved for the sex offenders. However, some officers, such as Kentucky Parole Officer Shannon E. Blalock, soon realized that checking social networking sites can provide a massive amount of intelligence on all offenders and officers must start using these sites for supervision and fugitive apprehension. Blalock refers to the concept of conducting virtual home visits and notes:
    “A virtual home visit is not a virtual home-visit where one logs onto a computer to watch a video feed of the offender in their home. It is a virtual-home visit; a visit to the offender's social network profile, their "virtual home." The virtual home visit is most effective when used to investigate a violation of the conditions of release or the offender's whereabouts after absconding supervision.” (Blalock, 2007)
There is evidence that others are not only following Blalock's advice but taking it a step further. An informal survey by the writer in 2008, revealed that at least 40% of some probation offices were doing cyberspace investigative activity, defined as Internet searches and/or possible use of covert on-line identities. Of the offices performing cyberspace investigations, 39% reported such activity on a monthly basis. Twenty-eight percent were engaged in such investigations once a week. Thirty-three percent were performing such tasks as needed or once every six months.Fifty-percent performing cyberspace investigations were spending less than 2 hours a month on such activity. Thirty-nine percent were spending 3 to 5 hours a month on cyberspace investigations. Six percent were spending 6 to 8 hours per month on such investigations. The informal survey also revealed concern by some that merely venturing into cyberspace to monitor offender's activities may somehow be too intrusive. It is unclear why this rationale exists considering any private citizen can lawfully complete all manner of Internet searches contemplated by officers officers.

Others expressed concern over the issue of “entrapment” Specifically, some believe merely verifying an offender has violated an Internet restriction through use of a covert on-line identity was unlawful. Legally, entrapment in cyberspace hinges on two interrelated questions, did the Government induce an individual to commit a crime and is the individual predisposed to commit a crime (U.S. v. Poehlman, 217 F.3d. 692 (9th Circuit, 2000)). An offender on-line against the law or a condition, has already engaged in prohibited conduct. Hence, in this scenario, a covert on-line identity cannot be an inducing factor in violation conduct that has already occurred. Obviously, more aggressive techniques, i.e., purporting to be a minor on-line to a sex offender authorized on the Internet, are clearly more problematic for rehabilitative goals. Additionally, collecting evidence in cyberspace, such as a troubling profile, needs to be done in a legally defensive manner. (Shipley, T. & Silbert, W., 2008 and and Shipley 2007) Considering all these factors, it soon becomes apparent that more training and clear guidance on cyberspace investigation practices for probation and parole officers are warranted.

There are numerous nonprofit organizations that can help officers prepare for cyberspace investigations as well as computer searches/monitoring. SEARCH: The National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics has excellent training materials for officers starting out in cyberspace, such as "How to Capture a MySpace Page for Investigative Purposes." Likewise, the National White Collar Crime Center has computer investigations courses for officers. The American Probation and Parole Association offers the course “Managing Sex Offenders’ Computer Use.” There is also the free program Field Search, developed by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center (NLECTC) - Rocky Mountain Division (RM) to assist officers supervising the cybersex offender. Joining a professional organization, such as the High Technology Crime Investigation Association provides not only valuable networking opportunities but they have the best annual three day training conference available (htciaconference.org).

Summary

Many community corrections officers are starting to understand that their duties do not always end in the brick and mortar world. They realize that, like the rest of society, offenders are using technology but some are finding it an attractive way to continue criminal and violation behavior. Managers and administrators must be willing to support their officers in developing and learning skills necessary to confront these new challenges. Otherwise offenders will be free to manipulate cyberspace for unacceptable purposes, creating a real risk to our communities.

References:
  1. Information provided by the National Conference of State Legislatures (http://www.ncsl.org)

Blalock, Shannon F. (2007) Virtual Home Visits: A Guide to Using Social Networking Sites to Assist with Offender Supervision and Fugitive Apprehension, District 1, Division of Probation and Parole Kentucky Department of Corrections.

Shipley, T. (2007), Collecting Legally Defensible Online Evidence: Creating a Standard Framework for I n t e rnet Foresnic Investigations. Vere Software (http://www.veresoftware.com)

Shipley, T. & Silbert, W. (2008) Online Investigation Best Practices presented at 2008 National Symposium on Cyber Crime, U.S. Pretrial Services, Southern District of California

Author:

Art Bowker has over 24 years experience in both law enforcement and corrections at the state and federal level. In 2008, he was the International President of the High Technology Crime Investigation Association (HTCIA). This professional non-profit organization is the largest of its kind devoted to the prevention, investigation, and prosecution of crimes involving advanced technologies (htcia.org). He is the 2010 International Secretary of HTCIA. Art is employed as Cybercrime Specialist with the U.S. Pretrial Services and Probation Office of Northern Ohio. He has a Master of Corrections degree from Kent State University. Follow Art on Twitter.com at: (http://twitter.com/Computerpo)

Other articles by Bowker:


Comments:

  1. suetiggers on 11/10/2009:

    good one IN FORBES http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2009/11/08/technology-us-tec-a-virus-framed-me_7099288.html UNITED VOICES AGAINST CHILD PORNOGRAPHY LAWS PERSONAL STORIES: He was 18 years old. He graduated high school, completed a year of community college and recently enlisted in the Navy. He knew of a photo that was out there on the internet - a girl of 15, in a lascivious position. He found it and downloaded it onto his laptop. He passed it on to an underage teen. One image downloaded and passed on... possession and distribution of child pornography. He was arrested at age 19. Under the guidelines of the law 2252A, he could receive 60 - 71 months in a federal prison. He was sentenced to 71 months. 71 months... for a non-violent, Non sexual contact "crime". It's hard. I do not understand the severity of the laws. I do not understand how they "help" someone put their life back in order when they have completed their punishment - only to be released to a lifetime sentence on the sex offender registry. Why is it only the "receiver" is punished? Why are the young teens or the photographers of these pictures not punished? If we want this to stop, we must look at all sides fairly and justly. My son has spent 2 birthdays in prison. He left as a young teen and will come home a man. We write, visit, talk on the phone, pray and hope. Hope is all that we have. Hope for the laws to be reformed soon. I wake up everyday and I cannot believe the hell we are living. I struggle to comprehend that my son was given an 8 year sentence in a Federal Prison for downloading child pornography from a shared site. He did not attempt to contact anyone or to send these images, he did not pay for these images and he had no previous offenses. My son's sentence was more severe than a recent local case where a young mother tossed her newborn child in a garbage can on a cold winter day and left it to die. Our lives are just a fog we go through to get past one more day. I find myself crying in my 80 year old parent's arms like I was a child. I fear they will not be here when he comes home. I have seen psychiatrist, psychologist and counselors and have tried numerous antidepressants to help me cope. I count the Christmases, the birthday and the Sunday dinners without him. I have gone from alcohol to God to help me understand what has happened and many days I find myself locked in a room just aching for my son to be home with no clear understanding of why he was so severely punished for a thought crime. Our stories are like thousands of others across the nation, whose lives have been destroyed with the skyrocketing of criminal charges for possession of child pornography. These newly constituted laws are based on nationally sensationalized cases of severe child victimization, skewed data, public hysteria and political gain. CONGRESSIONALLY MANDATED CHANGES NOT BASED ON SOUND RESEARCH: As the former United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York observed: "Equally alarming was the process by which these reforms were introduced and considered in Congress. The Feeney Amendment was introduced without input from the federal judiciary, the organized bar, academics, criminal justice experts, probation officers or prison officials. Even the Sentencing Commission itself - the very body charged by *315 Congress with the responsibility of creating and amending the Guidelines- was not consulted. Indeed, the statutory process for considering guidelines amendments - one that calls for the Sentencing Commission to consult with numerous interested parties in the criminal justice process - was ignored"(1) Our utmost priority must be to protect our children and remove from society those who harm them. At the same time, we must treat fairly all who are charged within our justice system. These laws are applied so broadly to violators that someone committing a non-violent crime, non contact offense can receive a longer prison term than someone committing murder or other violent crimes FLAWED GUIDELINES No category of offense has seen a more dramatic increase in sentencing than child pornography. In federal court, the average sentence for child pornography offense increased from 36 months in 1994 to 109.6 months in 2007(2). In the past two years alone, a small but growing number of federal judges have felt strongly enough about the guidelines to register their objections in the form of a written opinion. These guidelines make no clear distinction between the offender who swaps a few images online with another offender and the mass producers and distributors who make and market such material to millions of potential customer's world wide. "The pertinent question to ask is what caused such an incredible increase over the last decade? Does the typical offender today require 70.71 month or almost six full years, more confinement than the same offender a decade ago?" The answer to these questions is a resounding "No". The changes to the child pornography guidelines are not the product of an empirically demonstrated need for consistently tougher sentencing. Instead, these changes are largely the consequence of numerous morality earmarks' slipped into larger bills over the last fifteen years, often without notice, debate, or empirical study of any kind. Congressionally mandated changes were even enacted to prevent the Commission from implementing carefully considered modifications which would have lowered applicable offense levels. We do not condone the exploitation of children in any form. These laws were enacted at a time when possession was thought to drive demand. At that time one would need to pay for photographs, films or magazines. The Internet has obviously changed that. Pornography is the number one use of the internet and is viewed regularly by over 40 million persons a day(3). Most child pornography is not viewed on the Internet with any economic exchange. Our legislators are making laws to address the heinous exceptions and then applying these harsh laws to a broad offender group, most of whom have nothing in common with monster predators. Sexting and possession of Internet child pornography is a 21st century crime for which there is currently no effective legal answer. The current U.S. legal system response is oversimplified and ineffective. It casts a wide net, convicting those who access illegal material while turning a blind eye to those who produce and distribute it to the public. "These penalties have been increased arbitrarily and are irrationally based on political demands, and "enhancement: specifics so ill-defined that they apply in almost every case. These guidelines treat even first time offenders with no history of abusing or exploiting children as seriously as murders, rapists or child molester" Troy Stabenow, former military prosecutor. (June 10, 2008} According to Stabenow's analysis nearly 80 percent of all child pornography defendants in 2006 had no prior felonies of any kind, let alone a history of sexually abusing or exploiting a child(6). [Note: The United States Sentencing Guideline sets a mandatory sentence for each crime as a category of crime. then the mandatory sentence is 'enhanced' by a subset of specific 'conduct'. That is, possession of a proscribed article carries a sentence of some defined number of months (read years), then the specifics of the proscribed item carrying additional penalty, in most cases leading to a sentence more than double the original mandatory sentence. In the instant case, an example would be that a sexually explicit image was possessed. The image was of a person under 16, add more years, the image was copied on the computer or sent to another computer, distribution, add more years. Had the image included anything that could be interpreted as restraint, add a lot more years.: Editor.] SKEWED DATA: The group studied by the Commission included "a significant portion of child pornography offenders who have a criminal history that involves the sexual abuse or exploitation of children." That group bears little resemblance to the average offender sentenced today. Moreover, the guidelines are predicated on the untested assumption that anyone who would access and view child pornography is a potential child molester-an assumption for which critics say, the evidence is both scant and inconclusive. "Under this approach, it is enough that there is a potential for harm, that the individual's psychological makeup-or political inclinations-pose a grave risk. This attitude rips a large hole in the fabric of our American concept of justice. We do not allow incarceration for the propensity to commit a crime. In our system, the punishment should never precede the crime." "Consuming child pornography alone is not a risk factor for committing hand-on sex offenses, at least not for those subjects who had never committed a hands-on sex offense. The majority of the investigated consumers had no previous convictions for hands-on sex offenses. For those offenders, the prognosis for hands-on sex offenses, (likelihood of no such criminal actions occurring) as well as for recidivism (lack of return to previous behavior) with child pornography is favorable(7). DISCREPANCIES IN PUNISHMENT: E-Gold, a digital currency business, whose case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service, IRS Criminal Investigation and the FBI, was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney Jonathan Haray of the U.S. Attorney's office for the District of Columbia, and others, with assistance from the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section. Douglas Jackson, proprietor and founder, faced a maximum fine of $3.7 million and a maximum of 20 years in prison plus a personal fine of $500,000. His actual sentence after his plea: 300 hours of community service and $200(8). "Fundamentally, according to the law, you'll get less time for abusing a child than you will for looking at pornographic images of children."(9) CALL TO ACTION: The United States Sentencing Commission has identified a review of the child pornography guidelines and we are asking for RSOL members, families and friends to support reform of this legislation. The US House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security is our primary target: http://judiciary.house.gov/about/subcrime.html. Write letters with your personal stories, make calls and demand change, be persistent and make regular contact. Ask family and friends to contact each house member of congress opposing these laws. http://www.conservativeusa.org/mega-cong.htm It is imperative that our elected officials receive thousands of letters opposing these guidelines beginning now and continuing through May, 2010. Letter writing campaigns, phone calls and faxes will have the greatest impact. Keep a steady pressure on them for change. If you are interested in working with a state organizer to coordinate a letter writing campaign please contact nyrsol@aol.com . CONSEQUENCES: The long reaching consequences of these offenses leaves little support programs available for one who bears the label of sex offender. Support for those on the sex offender registry is almost non existent. Most face severe supervision restrictions, including polygraphs, even though inadmissible by the Supreme Court, road blocks to employment, circulars throughout neighborhoods to publicize where they live and restrictions to live in their own homes with their families. The safety of our children is not being served and resources are misspent. In closing, a quote from Judge Gilbert S. Merritt of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Cincinnati: "The federal legal system has "lost its bearings' on the subject of computer-base child pornography and likened the treatment of offenders to the "witchcraft trials and burnings: of several centuries ago."(10) Our responsibility to our loved ones who have been victims of this legal injustice is to make the public aware this is not a black and white issue and to voice our opposition to our government officials.

  2. suetiggers on 11/10/2009:

    MYTH #1: "SEX OFFENDERS WILL ALWAYS KEEP OFFENDING." Recently the Bureau of Justice Statistics published a study which tracked 9,700 sex offenders for three years, 2001-2004. Their findings concluded: · Only 5.3% of these people imprisoned for sex crimes were rearrested for a subsequent sex offense. · Where a child was involved, the rearrest rate dropped to 3.3%. · Between two adults, the sexual reoffense rate was 2.2%. A more multifaceted meta-analysis was done in 2004 by the office of Canada's Solicitor General, Karl Hanson. This analysis involved 95 studies tracking 31,000 sex offenders. These studies had an average follow-up period of 5 years and found: · The recidivism rate for once-caught pedophiles was 12.7%. · The overall once caught recidivism rate (includes adult victims) was 13.7%. Contrary to widespread public opinion, once-caught sex offenders have a very low recidivism rate. With or without treatment, more than 87% of the once-caught do not commit another sex crime. With treatment, the likelihood of re-offending is even lower. In contrast, according to the 2004 U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics study, 69% of all other types of criminals go back to prison, and they do so within five years. Over a longer period of time, other FBI statistics show, about 74% of all other types of offenders return to prison. When that figure is compared to only 2% to 13%, the recidivism rate for sex offenders in reality is only a tiny fraction of what it is for other types of crime. This is not what the public believes and certainly not what they have heard. As the trackings of tens of thousands clearly attest, most people learn from their mistakes,and sex offenders are no exception. Just getting caught changes the behavior of most individuals. MYTH #2: "TREATMENT DOESN'T MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE." The public has been told for years that treatment doesn't work, that "for sex offenders nothing works," but here too a myriad of major studies indicates otherwise: · The Campbell Collaboration analysis of 22,000 individuals found that treatment reduced recidivism by 37%. · Canada's Karl Hanson's 2000 analysis found a reduction of 41%. · · Oshkosh Correctional's meta-analysis from 79 separate studies of over 11,000 sex offenders found that people who participated in treatment programs had a 59% rearrest reduction. · According to Alexander's 1998 study, "Men arrested for having sex with children are usually overcome with shame and remorse and they want to stop. Since 1943 those who were treated in jails, hospitals and outpatient clinics found their way back to prison at a rate that was approximately one-third of those who had no treatment." · By 2005, most all preventative programs showed that rearrest rates were being reduced by greater than half. With some of the latest deep aversion and victim empathy regimens, reductions were reported as high as 91%. · There is now a credible concurrence that "treatment works" and that new programs are becoming increasingly more successful. For more detailed data, see Sex Offenses: Facts, Fictions and Policy Implications, January 2006, available on the NCIA web page at http://66.165.94.98/stories/Sex Offenders Report.pdf. See also an earlier article by Eric Lotke, Politics and Irrelevance: Community Notification Statutes, October 1997 available on the NCIA web page or at http://66.165.94.98/stoires/polnirr97.html. Professor Eric Lotke can be reached at (elotke@yahoo.com). NCIA's web page is www.ncianet.org. http://www.atsa.com/ppOffenderFacts.html MYTH #3: "THE GREATEST THREAT TO OUR CHILDREN COMES FROM STRANGERS." · According to the most recent major study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (2004), where 9,700 sex offenders were tracked, only 7% of such crimes against children were perpetrated by strangers. · The majority (93%) of molestations of children are not committed by strangers but by people who are known and trusted within or about the family. · Throughout the last decade, other arrest studies have found similar results. Most sex offenses are committed by a family member or guardian/family member (often some parental substitute). · It may be a trusted uncle, father, stepfather, mother, family friend, a teacher, coach or a priest; but in almost all cases the culprit is not a stranger. If we keep in mind that 93% of the culprits are family or known to the family, and that 87% of sex offenders who are caught do not re-offend, then it would seem that most registries or residency restrictions or tracking of individuals will be very close to a waste of time. Such procedures will not make our communities any safer. In fact, there's evidence such measures will do the opposite. MYTH #4: "BANNING SEX OFFENDERS FROM PLACES WHERE CHILDREN CONGREGATE WILL SIGNIFICANTLY PROTECT OUR CHILDREN." To claim school yards, daycare centers and other places where children congregate need legislation or Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) geo-fence to keep sex offenders away may sound sensible, but again the facts do not fit the reality. The fact is that most sex offenses take place in or near one's home and that only 7% involve strangers. Furthermore, only a tiny percentage of sex offenders have any history of kidnapping or molesting children unknown to them. Perhaps among the safest places for children to be are those where they are together in numbers. School personnel are paying more attention than ever before, and older kids are keeping more of a watchful eye. People --even kids-- look out for each other in public places. Finally, making it difficult for sex offenders to find places to reside means that they will have a much harder time re-integrating themselves into society, which is what most of them want to do. MYTH #5: "TOUGHER LEGISLATION IS THE ONLY SOLUTION." In the U.S., our judges are learned and principled and render few decisions without due diligence. Very stiff punishments for child murderers are certainly called for, but punishment is just only when it is proportioned to the severity of the crime. Such judgments should remain in the courts, subject to very specific deliberations --they should not be rendered in the legislatures, where careful deliberation is impossible. If legislation is based on the false premise that recidivism is inevitable rather than rare, and if blurs the line between sex offense and murder, then it will result in laws that promote public shaming and permanent exclusion. These laws presume and promote lifelong guilt, ruling out all hope of change. Thus they not only clearly violate the Constitution, but they actually encourage more of the very crimes we are trying to reduce. If we truly want fewer victims, we should adopt a more holistic approach to reintegrating sex offenders back into society. The focus should shift from more and harsher punishment to the funding of good treatment programs. Although such a shift may have little current appeal among the public today, treatment is the only sure way that we will see fewer victims of these types of crime. Given all the degrees that sexual offenses can take, one type of sentence does not fit all. What do you do with a 17-year-old who had sex with a 15-year-old? What do you do if he was 19? What if it was consensual? Does he get registered for a lifetime as a sex offender? What about an 8-year-old who plays doctor? What if he's 14? That fact is that nowadays even juvenile sex offenders are being branded for life. MYTH #6: "THE ONLY WAY TO DEAL WITH THEM IS PUT THEM BEHIND BARS." Today, with two and quarter million inmates, our country has more people in jails and prisons than it does in all our colleges and universities combined. When three-quarters of all offenders are going back to prison, just funding more prison cells isn't the answer. If our goal were to mass produce criminals, we couldn't be doing a better job. Without treatment programs, our prisons have become huge breweries, woefully turning out more of the same product, each generation more hardened and more dangerous than the last. If ever we're to make our societies more just and our communities more secure, our goal must be to make some serious changes and not just keep doing more of the same. If we got more serious about funding preventative programs, then our courts could establish good treatment programs that would start from the first day of a criminal's first conviction. The result would be many fewer victims of all sorts of crimes, including sexual abuse of children. Presently there is little or no rehabilitation taking place in our prisons; there is just more and more fruitless incarceration. We need to wake up about what we are brewing and start legislating intelligently, so that offenders can really get rehabilitated and contribute constructively to society. MYTH #7: "MANDATORY MINIMUM SENTENCES ARE EFFECTIVE AND WILL HELP PROTECT SOCIETY." Although the public may believe that extremely stiff, mandatory minimum sentences and lock'em up strategies send a message that deters crime, history tells another story. Criminologists point out that such laws, even when publicized, are not all that effective. Often, in the heat of actual violence, perpetrators do not even think about consequences. At such moments of blinding rage and confusion, there are generally few thoughts of penalties or sentences, severe or otherwise. Conversely, we do know that extremely harsh mandatory sentences have prompted some of the very types of crime they are intended to stem. When a perpetrator is aware of particularly dire consequences if he's caught, that fear can lead him to cause even greater harm for the victim. A person facing a stiff sentence like a mandatory 25 years to life, or even a death sentence, may decide his chances are better if he eliminates the victim and any possible witness. What might have been a lesser crime then often gets even worse. It may seem a paradox, but the stiffer the consequences, the more Jessicas, Megans and Polly Klaases will likely be the result. It is understandable that with such terrible murders come calls for tougher punishments. However, the problem with legislation launched in anger is that it invariably ends up punishing not only those who deserve punishment, but also those who do not. http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/columnists.nsf/billmcclellan/story/E50B1B1FEAFB074D862576270008B6CA?OpenDocument Maybe Less is More in Sex Offender Lists Bill McClellan MYTH #8: "SEX OFFENDER REGISTRIES ARE NECESSARY TO PROTECT SOCIETY." Posting names, addresses and photographs on a Sex Offender Registry is not only a risk to those on the list; it can also lead to unintended, inappropriate and destructive consequences for the whole community. Registries tend to treat all sex offenders the same way, without reference to the severity of their offense, their responsiveness to treatment, or current assessment of the risk they pose. It is seen by some as an opportunity to harass the offenders and even worse. While it is certainly in order to professionally monitor and discipline sex offenders for various prudent periods, we must also try to be fair about how offenders are handled. Permanently branding them on registries or making targets of them with conspicuous tracking devices will only aggravate the problems, not solve them. Unfortunately, when a partially informed public is allowed and encouraged to become watchdogs, sex offenders face greater risk of confrontations by the public, due mainly to anger and hostility. Some people even feel that they have a warrant to harass offenders and make life miserable for them. Since the start of Community Notification, there has been a growing number of serious beatings, not only of sex offenders, but sometimes of their family members or people with whom they live. Some confrontations have led to tragedies. Two sex offenders were murdered in Maine. In this case, the victims were no longer likely threats; one was simply a young man who at 17 had a 15-year-old girlfriend. Had their names, addresses and photographs not been on the state's registry, had the two been simply monitored by probation and treatment professionals, they would not have been spotlighted by some zealot who apparently thought he was doing the work of God. A little wall sign at one of NCIA's clinics gets a lot of applause from those in treatment: "Permanent brandings may be all right for cattle, but they shouldn't be for people." If we want to be humane, that sign is correct. If we want former offenders to regain their health and not be always on the run, we should not set them up to be stalked. Vengeful prescriptions that call only for more and more punishment will not produce a cure. Since so few of the once-caught remain a threat, there are smarter approaches than alarming communities with registries and turning all levels of former offenders over to the general public for surveillance. MYTH #9: "TRACKING DEVICES ARE A PRACTICAL AND JUST MEANS FOR KEEPING SEX OFFENDERS UNDER SURVEILLANCE." If we want fewer victims of sexual offenses, the primary goal should be to reintegrate former offenders peacefully back into society as law-abiding citizens. This cannot be done if we keep them in fear and on the run. Tracking devices that have to be worn conspicuously only make targets of the people we are trying to reintegrate into society. When offenders are made to wear GPS bracelets, with one worn on the ankle and another on the wrist, they are big, bulky and hard to keep hidden. For anyone who has to wear them, they are a scarlet letter, a crippling stigma of shame. If we want to keep sex-offenders on track, turning them into prey on registries or spotlighting them with bulky tracking bracelets on both arm and leg is not the answer. Making a dartboard of any human being is clearly more an act of revenge than an aid in stemming crime. The vigilante mentality is still strong in many places: one man on a sex offender registry found the severed head of his pet dog on the front porch of his house. Sadly, the new legislation being created is aimed more at increasing punishment and appeasing the public than it is at actually making our communities safer. When the public is as misinformed and angry as they are, it is a perilous mistake to give them the addresses and photographs of all sex offenders, particularly without the background of their crimes or updated individual assessments of risk. The monitoring of sex offenders will always be better handled by knowledgeable treatment professionals carefully coordinating their efforts with police and parole officers than by the varied mercies of an angry, upset and partially informed populace. If GPS devices need to be used, there now exist cellphones with GPS chips, which not only give the person”s precise location but allow immediate voice contact with the person. Unless we want to go back two centuries to the ghoulish practices of Salem, we should not get caught up in the intoxications of revenge that only fuel harassment and witchhunts. MYTH #10: "THE EXPERTS SAY THAT STRONG, REPRESSIVE MEASURES ARE NECESSARY TO KEEP SEX OFFENDERS FROM RE-OFFENDING." Below are some revealing quotes from various experts and authors who have studied sex offender legislation and treatment. · Tom Masters, Program Director, Correctional Treatment Services at Oregon State Hospital: Unfortunately a lot of crime legislation is a function of politics and does not lead to rehabilitation or community safety. · Margaret Love, former Justice Department Pardon Attorney, writes: Mean spirited vengeful legislation is only an incitement to vigilante injustice masquerading as a responsible public safety measure. · In the June 2006 issue of National Wildlife, Richard Law summarizes some studies on how we in America have become so overcome by fear. Here are some excerpts: Fear is felt nearly intensely in suburban Overland Park, Kansas, as it is in urban Philadelphia. One suburban father told me, "I want to know where my kid is 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I want to know where that kid is. Which hours. Which square foot. Which telephone number. As a parent, I have felt that fear but consider the facts: o The number of abductions by strangers has been falling for years. o Most abductors are family members. o U.S. children are safer now than they have been since 1975.According to the 2005 Duke University Child Well Being Index, violent victimization of children has dropped by more than 38 percent. o A 1991 study found that in 1990, the radius within which children were allowed to roam on their own from home had shrunk to a ninth of what it had been in 1970. o What has increased is round-the-clock news coverage of a few tragedies, conditioning families to live in fear. · In her book, Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex (University of Minnesota Press, 2002), author Judith Levine wrote: All this rational talk may mean nothing to a parent. Out of 45 million, only nine children are raped and murdered: slim odds, sure, but if it happens to your baby, who cares about the statistics? Still, most parents manage to put irrational fears in perspective. Why, in spite of all information to the contrary, do Americans insist on believing that pedophiles are a major peril to their children? What do people fear so formidably? Our culture fears the pedophile, say some social critics, not because he is a deviant, but because he is ordinary. And I don't mean because he is the ice-cream man or Father Patrick. No, we fear him because he is us. · In his study The Culture of Child Molesting, the literary critic James Kincaid traced this terror back to the middle of the nineteenth century. Then, he said, Anglo-American culture conjured childhood innocence, defining it as a desire-less subjectivity, at the same time as it constructed a new ideal of the sexually desirable object. The two had identical attributes --softness, cuteness, docility, passivity-- and this simultaneous cultural invention has presented us with a wicked psychosocial problem ever since. We relish our erotic attraction to children, says Kincaid (witness the child beauty pageants in which JonBenet Ramsey was entered). But we also find that attraction abhorrent (witness the public shock and disgust at JonBonets "sexualization" in those pageants). So we project that eroticized desire outward, creating a monster to hate, hunt down and punish. · In the June 2, 2006, San Francisco Chronicle Mark Martin, Peter Firmrite and Greg Lucas wrote an article that made the following points: o Residency prohibitions on sex offenders have become increasingly popular across the country, despite any statistical evidence that they limit assaults on children. At least 18 states have some restrictions on where parolees live. o Niki Delson, a licensed clinical social worker who has worked for 30 years with sex offenders and their victims and who is chairwoman of the California Coalition on Sexual Offending, says: "Where someone lives has no relation to the commission of a crime". She calls residency requirements "a smoke screen that does little to help children". o Jill Levenson, a professor at Lynn University says: "Restricting where parolees live can actually do more harm than good. Such requirements tend to push them out of metropolitan areas where they are further away from job opportunities, families, treatment options and all the things we know that will reduce recidivism. o A review of residence restrictions Levenson published noted that both Minnesota and Colorado prison officials studied patterns of sex offenders on parole and found no correlation between new offenses the parolees committed and where they lived. Neither state adopted residency requirements. · Corwin Ritchie, Executive Director at the Iowa County Attorney's Association, stated: In 2002, Iowa enacted a law that prohibits sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or daycare center. The law has overburdened law enforcement, has concentrated sex offenders in areas where they are allowed to live, and has led to an increase in the number of sex offenders who have stopped registering with local authorities and gone missing. I defy anyone to try and convince me, scientifically or logically, that those requirements have any affect at all. It makes great sense politically, but has no affect whatsoever on public safety. · James Poniewozik, staff writer for Time Magazine, wrote on October 16, 2006: Strangers make up 7% of child molesters; the vast majority are family members. But you wouldn't know it from watching TV. When stranger predators are everywhere on TV, it suggests that they are everywhere in the real world: in your school yard, roaming your street, and --especially-- climbing the DSL line into your kids' bedrooms like an ivied trellis. · Robert Freeman-Longo, former director of the Safer Society, stated: You ban somebody from the community, he has no friends, he feels bad about himself, and you reinforce the very problems that contribute to sex abuse behavior in the first place. You make him a worse sex offender. CONCLUSION Knowing of NCIA's work and having seen this report, author/researcher Henry Scammell volunteered the following: The public has been misled into believing that sex offenders are around every corner and that even those who have been caught will go on to offend forever. The first fear is irrational and the second is less true of sex offenses than of virtually any other type of crime. The only public policies with any hope of success are those based on reliable research instead of fears, and on scientific facts rather than easy political fixes fed by misconceptions. Fear is a poor basis for public policy. It raises a nearly unbreachable barrier to the truth. And a policy that is based on the realities --of low recidivism, of responsiveness to treatment and of the relationship between the vast majority of offenders and their victims-- offers the only hope for reducing or eliminating one of our society’s saddest and most challenging problems. If we keep in mind the reality that once a sex offender is caught, most of the problem ceases, that preventative programs can cure almost all the rest of the once caught, then clearly treatment must be the goal. When you hear a politician calling for tougher sentences and not backing it up with dollars for treatment programs, then he is looking for votes, not solutions. The public's fear would not be so intense today if it were not being propelled by all the exaggerated and often totally false recidivism claims. There have been too many "scarathons" that claim that the boogeyman has become much larger than he really is. Even though the public imagines the molester-kidnapper is everywhere, that simply is not the case. Because of all the clamor and panic, what criminologists and treatment scholars have learned to date has plainly not been heard by the public. Sadly, what has been spawned politically so far, such as sex registries and residency restrictions, are measures that will do nothing to make our communities safer, but in fact will do more harm. If we want fewer sex offenders and fewer victims of these types of crime, we have got to be more levelheaded. We should see to it that the public and our legislators inform themselves better about these myths and learn to distinguish the reality from the many distorted ideas that are abroad. Copyright 2007-2008 ReformSexOffenderLaws.Org Group

  3. suetiggers on 11/10/2009:

    A closed mind is a good thing to lose. Anonymous

    Ten Myths About Sex Offenders

    [This document is an attempt to summarize an research report published by the National Council on Institutions and Alternatives (NCIA). The March 2007 report was called "Towards More Effective Sex Offense Legislation". This summary does not necessarily reflect the views of the NCIA itself.]

    Recidivism is defined as repeat criminal behavior among offenders.

    Of all crimes, sex offenders are widely believed to have the highest level of recidivism. However, treatment professionals and criminologists have known for some time that once sex offenders are caught, only a small minority of them will commit another sex crime. Although some pedophiles, before they are caught, have many victims, most have a single victim in or about their own family.

    We all hope for the day when we can see fewer sex offenses and particularly fewer juvenile victims of such crimes. But so long as what we think we know about these types of crimes is based on myths and fear rather than facts, that day will never come. There are several myths that are widely believed that need to be debunked. In recent years social scientists and criminologists have combed through an immense accumulation of data from hundreds of studies, which have tracked tens of thousands of individual sex offenders for long periods of time, some even for decades.

    By 1994, 670 studies of sex offenders had been done and by the end of 2005 well over 700. Many of these studies have been systematized through a methodology called meta-analysis.

    The resulting data reveal that many common myths about sex offenders are simply false. We outline here some of them.

    MYTH #1: "SEX OFFENDERS WILL ALWAYS KEEP OFFENDING."

    Recently the Bureau of Justice Statistics published a study which tracked 9,700 sex offenders for three years, 2001-2004. Their findings concluded: · Only 5.3% of these people imprisoned for sex crimes were rearrested for a subsequent sex offense. · Where a child was involved, the rearrest rate dropped to 3.3%. · Between two adults, the sexual reoffense rate was 2.2%. A more multifaceted meta-analysis was done in 2004 by the office of Canada's Solicitor General, Karl Hanson. This analysis involved 95 studies tracking 31,000 sex offenders. These studies had an average follow-up period of 5 years and found: · The recidivism rate for once-caught pedophiles was 12.7%. · The overall once caught recidivism rate (includes adult victims) was 13.7%. Contrary to widespread public opinion, once-caught sex offenders have a very low recidivism rate. With or without treatment, more than 87% of the once-caught do not commit another sex crime. With treatment, the likelihood of re-offending is even lower. In contrast, according to the 2004 U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics study, 69% of all other types of criminals go back to prison, and they do so within five years. Over a longer period of time, other FBI statistics show, about 74% of all other types of offenders return to prison. When that figure is compared to only 2% to 13%, the recidivism rate for sex offenders in reality is only a tiny fraction of what it is for other types of crime. This is not what the public believes and certainly not what they have heard. As the trackings of tens of thousands clearly attest, most people learn from their mistakes,and sex offenders are no exception. Just getting caught changes the behavior of most individuals.

    MYTH #2: "TREATMENT DOESN'T MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE."

    The public has been told for years that treatment doesn't work, that "for sex offenders nothing works," but here too a myriad of major studies indicates otherwise: · The Campbell Collaboration analysis of 22,000 individuals found that treatment reduced recidivism by 37%. · Canada's Karl Hanson's 2000 analysis found a reduction of 41%. · · Oshkosh Correctional's meta-analysis from 79 separate studies of over 11,000 sex offenders found that people who participated in treatment programs had a 59% rearrest reduction. · According to Alexander's 1998 study, "Men arrested for having sex with children are usually overcome with shame and remorse and they want to stop. Since 1943 those who were treated in jails, hospitals and outpatient clinics found their way back to prison at a rate that was approximately one-third of those who had no treatment." · By 2005, most all preventative programs showed that rearrest rates were being reduced by greater than half. With some of the latest deep aversion and victim empathy regimens, reductions were reported as high as 91%. · There is now a credible concurrence that "treatment works" and that new programs are becoming increasingly more successful. For more detailed data, see Sex Offenses: Facts, Fictions and Policy Implications, January 2006, available on the NCIA web page at http://66.165.94.98/stories/Sex Offenders Report.pdf. See also an earlier article by Eric Lotke, Politics and Irrelevance: Community Notification Statutes, October 1997 available on the NCIA web page or at http://66.165.94.98/stoires/polnirr97.html. Professor Eric Lotke can be reached at (elotke@yahoo.com). NCIA's web page is www.ncianet.org. http://www.atsa.com/ppOffenderFacts.html

    MYTH #3: "THE GREATEST THREAT TO OUR CHILDREN COMES FROM STRANGERS."

    · According to the most recent major study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (2004), where 9,700 sex offenders were tracked, only 7% of such crimes against children were perpetrated by strangers. · The majority (93%) of molestations of children are not committed by strangers but by people who are known and trusted within or about the family. · Throughout the last decade, other arrest studies have found similar results. Most sex offenses are committed by a family member or guardian/family member (often some parental substitute). · It may be a trusted uncle, father, stepfather, mother, family friend, a teacher, coach or a priest; but in almost all cases the culprit is not a stranger. If we keep in mind that 93% of the culprits are family or known to the family, and that 87% of sex offenders who are caught do not re-offend, then it would seem that most registries or residency restrictions or tracking of individuals will be very close to a waste of time. Such procedures will not make our communities any safer. In fact, there's evidence such measures will do the opposite.

    MYTH #4: "BANNING SEX OFFENDERS FROM PLACES WHERE CHILDREN CONGREGATE WILL SIGNIFICANTLY PROTECT OUR CHILDREN."

    To claim school yards, daycare centers and other places where children congregate need legislation or Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) geo-fence to keep sex offenders away may sound sensible, but again the facts do not fit the reality. The fact is that most sex offenses take place in or near one's home and that only 7% involve strangers. Furthermore, only a tiny percentage of sex offenders have any history of kidnapping or molesting children unknown to them. Perhaps among the safest places for children to be are those where they are together in numbers. School personnel are paying more attention than ever before, and older kids are keeping more of a watchful eye. People --even kids-- look out for each other in public places. Finally, making it difficult for sex offenders to find places to reside means that they will have a much harder time re-integrating themselves into society, which is what most of them want to do.

    MYTH #5: "TOUGHER LEGISLATION IS THE ONLY SOLUTION."

    In the U.S., our judges are learned and principled and render few decisions without due diligence. Very stiff punishments for child murderers are certainly called for, but punishment is just only when it is proportioned to the severity of the crime. Such judgments should remain in the courts, subject to very specific deliberations --they should not be rendered in the legislatures, where careful deliberation is impossible. If legislation is based on the false premise that recidivism is inevitable rather than rare, and if blurs the line between sex offense and murder, then it will result in laws that promote public shaming and permanent exclusion. These laws presume and promote lifelong guilt, ruling out all hope of change. Thus they not only clearly violate the Constitution, but they actually encourage more of the very crimes we are trying to reduce. If we truly want fewer victims, we should adopt a more holistic approach to reintegrating sex offenders back into society. The focus should shift from more and harsher punishment to the funding of good treatment programs. Although such a shift may have little current appeal among the public today, treatment is the only sure way that we will see fewer victims of these types of crime. Given all the degrees that sexual offenses can take, one type of sentence does not fit all. What do you do with a 17-year-old who had sex with a 15-year-old? What do you do if he was 19? What if it was consensual? Does he get registered for a lifetime as a sex offender? What about an 8-year-old who plays doctor? What if he's 14? That fact is that nowadays even juvenile sex offenders are being branded for life.

    MYTH #6: "THE ONLY WAY TO DEAL WITH THEM IS PUT THEM BEHIND BARS."

    Today, with two and quarter million inmates, our country has more people in jails and prisons than it does in all our colleges and universities combined. When three-quarters of all offenders are going back to prison, just funding more prison cells isn't the answer. If our goal were to mass produce criminals, we couldn't be doing a better job. Without treatment programs, our prisons have become huge breweries, woefully turning out more of the same product, each generation more hardened and more dangerous than the last. If ever we're to make our societies more just and our communities more secure, our goal must be to make some serious changes and not just keep doing more of the same. If we got more serious about funding preventative programs, then our courts could establish good treatment programs that would start from the first day of a criminal's first conviction. The result would be many fewer victims of all sorts of crimes, including sexual abuse of children. Presently there is little or no rehabilitation taking place in our prisons; there is just more and more fruitless incarceration. We need to wake up about what we are brewing and start legislating intelligently, so that offenders can really get rehabilitated and contribute constructively to society.

    MYTH #7: "MANDATORY MINIMUM SENTENCES ARE EFFECTIVE AND WILL HELP PROTECT SOCIETY."

    Although the public may believe that extremely stiff, mandatory minimum sentences and lock'em up strategies send a message that deters crime, history tells another story. Criminologists point out that such laws, even when publicized, are not all that effective. Often, in the heat of actual violence, perpetrators do not even think about consequences. At such moments of blinding rage and confusion, there are generally few thoughts of penalties or sentences, severe or otherwise. Conversely, we do know that extremely harsh mandatory sentences have prompted some of the very types of crime they are intended to stem. When a perpetrator is aware of particularly dire consequences if he's caught, that fear can lead him to cause even greater harm for the victim. A person facing a stiff sentence like a mandatory 25 years to life, or even a death sentence, may decide his chances are better if he eliminates the victim and any possible witness. What might have been a lesser crime then often gets even worse. It may seem a paradox, but the stiffer the consequences, the more Jessicas, Megans and Polly Klaases will likely be the result. It is understandable that with such terrible murders come calls for tougher punishments. However, the problem with legislation launched in anger is that it invariably ends up punishing not only those who deserve punishment, but also those who do not. http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/columnists.nsf/billmcclellan/story/E50B1B1FEAFB074D862576270008B6CA?OpenDocument Maybe Less is More in Sex Offender Lists Bill McClellan

    MYTH #8: "SEX OFFENDER REGISTRIES ARE NECESSARY TO PROTECT SOCIETY."

    Posting names, addresses and photographs on a Sex Offender Registry is not only a risk to those on the list; it can also lead to unintended, inappropriate and destructive consequences for the whole community. Registries tend to treat all sex offenders the same way, without reference to the severity of their offense, their responsiveness to treatment, or current assessment of the risk they pose. It is seen by some as an opportunity to harass the offenders and even worse. While it is certainly in order to professionally monitor and discipline sex offenders for various prudent periods, we must also try to be fair about how offenders are handled. Permanently branding them on registries or making targets of them with conspicuous tracking devices will only aggravate the problems, not solve them. Unfortunately, when a partially informed public is allowed and encouraged to become watchdogs, sex offenders face greater risk of confrontations by the public, due mainly to anger and hostility. Some people even feel that they have a warrant to harass offenders and make life miserable for them. Since the start of Community Notification, there has been a growing number of serious beatings, not only of sex offenders, but sometimes of their family members or people with whom they live. Some confrontations have led to tragedies. Two sex offenders were murdered in Maine. In this case, the victims were no longer likely threats; one was simply a young man who at 17 had a 15-year-old girlfriend. Had their names, addresses and photographs not been on the state's registry, had the two been simply monitored by probation and treatment professionals, they would not have been spotlighted by some zealot who apparently thought he was doing the work of God. A little wall sign at one of NCIA's clinics gets a lot of applause from those in treatment: "Permanent brandings may be all right for cattle, but they shouldn't be for people." If we want to be humane, that sign is correct. If we want former offenders to regain their health and not be always on the run, we should not set them up to be stalked. Vengeful prescriptions that call only for more and more punishment will not produce a cure. Since so few of the once-caught remain a threat, there are smarter approaches than alarming communities with registries and turning all levels of former offenders over to the general public for surveillance.

    MYTH #9: "TRACKING DEVICES ARE A PRACTICAL AND JUST MEANS FOR KEEPING SEX OFFENDERS UNDER SURVEILLANCE."

    If we want fewer victims of sexual offenses, the primary goal should be to reintegrate former offenders peacefully back into society as law-abiding citizens. This cannot be done if we keep them in fear and on the run. Tracking devices that have to be worn conspicuously only make targets of the people we are trying to reintegrate into society. When offenders are made to wear GPS bracelets, with one worn on the ankle and another on the wrist, they are big, bulky and hard to keep hidden. For anyone who has to wear them, they are a scarlet letter, a crippling stigma of shame. If we want to keep sex-offenders on track, turning them into prey on registries or spotlighting them with bulky tracking bracelets on both arm and leg is not the answer. Making a dartboard of any human being is clearly more an act of revenge than an aid in stemming crime. The vigilante mentality is still strong in many places: one man on a sex offender registry found the severed head of his pet dog on the front porch of his house. Sadly, the new legislation being created is aimed more at increasing punishment and appeasing the public than it is at actually making our communities safer. When the public is as misinformed and angry as they are, it is a perilous mistake to give them the addresses and photographs of all sex offenders, particularly without the background of their crimes or updated individual assessments of risk. The monitoring of sex offenders will always be better handled by knowledgeable treatment professionals carefully coordinating their efforts with police and parole officers than by the varied mercies of an angry, upset and partially informed populace. If GPS devices need to be used, there now exist cellphones with GPS chips, which not only give the person”s precise location but allow immediate voice contact with the person. Unless we want to go back two centuries to the ghoulish practices of Salem, we should not get caught up in the intoxications of revenge that only fuel harassment and witchhunts.

    MYTH #10: "THE EXPERTS SAY THAT STRONG, REPRESSIVE MEASURES ARE NECESSARY TO KEEP SEX OFFENDERS FROM RE-OFFENDING."

    Below are some revealing quotes from various experts and authors who have studied sex offender legislation and treatment. · Tom Masters, Program Director, Correctional Treatment Services at Oregon State Hospital: Unfortunately a lot of crime legislation is a function of politics and does not lead to rehabilitation or community safety. · Margaret Love, former Justice Department Pardon Attorney, writes: Mean spirited vengeful legislation is only an incitement to vigilante injustice masquerading as a responsible public safety measure. · In the June 2006 issue of National Wildlife, Richard Law summarizes some studies on how we in America have become so overcome by fear. Here are some excerpts: Fear is felt nearly intensely in suburban Overland Park, Kansas, as it is in urban Philadelphia. One suburban father told me, "I want to know where my kid is 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I want to know where that kid is. Which hours. Which square foot. Which telephone number. As a parent, I have felt that fear but consider the facts: o The number of abductions by strangers has been falling for years. o Most abductors are family members. o U.S. children are safer now than they have been since 1975.According to the 2005 Duke University Child Well Being Index, violent victimization of children has dropped by more than 38 percent. o A 1991 study found that in 1990, the radius within which children were allowed to roam on their own from home had shrunk to a ninth of what it had been in 1970. o What has increased is round-the-clock news coverage of a few tragedies, conditioning families to live in fear. · In her book, Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex (University of Minnesota Press, 2002), author Judith Levine wrote: All this rational talk may mean nothing to a parent. Out of 45 million, only nine children are raped and murdered: slim odds, sure, but if it happens to your baby, who cares about the statistics? Still, most parents manage to put irrational fears in perspective. Why, in spite of all information to the contrary, do Americans insist on believing that pedophiles are a major peril to their children?

    What do people fear so formidably? Our culture fears the pedophile, say some social critics, not because he is a deviant, but because he is ordinary. And I don't mean because he is the ice-cream man or Father Patrick. No, we fear him because he is us.

    · In his study The Culture of Child Molesting, the literary critic James Kincaid traced this terror back to the middle of the nineteenth century. Then, he said, Anglo-American culture conjured childhood innocence, defining it as a desire-less subjectivity, at the same time as it constructed a new ideal of the sexually desirable object. The two had identical attributes --softness, cuteness, docility, passivity-- and this simultaneous cultural invention has presented us with a wicked psychosocial problem ever since. We relish our erotic attraction to children, says Kincaid (witness the child beauty pageants in which JonBenet Ramsey was entered). But we also find that attraction abhorrent (witness the public shock and disgust at JonBonets "sexualization" in those pageants). So we project that eroticized desire outward, creating a monster to hate, hunt down and punish.

    · In the June 2, 2006, San Francisco Chronicle Mark Martin, Peter Firmrite and Greg Lucas wrote an article that made the following points: o Residency prohibitions on sex offenders have become increasingly popular across the country, despite any statistical evidence that they limit assaults on children. At least 18 states have some restrictions on where parolees live. o Niki Delson, a licensed clinical social worker who has worked for 30 years with sex offenders and their victims and who is chairwoman of the California Coalition on Sexual Offending, says: "Where someone lives has no relation to the commission of a crime". She calls residency requirements "a smoke screen that does little to help children". o Jill Levenson, a professor at Lynn University says: "Restricting where parolees live can actually do more harm than good. Such requirements tend to push them out of metropolitan areas where they are further away from job opportunities, families, treatment options and all the things we know that will reduce recidivism. o A review of residence restrictions Levenson published noted that both Minnesota and Colorado prison officials studied patterns of sex offenders on parole and found no correlation between new offenses the parolees committed and where they lived. Neither state adopted residency requirements. · Corwin Ritchie, Executive Director at the Iowa County Attorney's Association, stated: In 2002, Iowa enacted a law that prohibits sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or daycare center. The law has overburdened law enforcement, has concentrated sex offenders in areas where they are allowed to live, and has led to an increase in the number of sex offenders who have stopped registering with local authorities and gone missing.

    I defy anyone to try and convince me, scientifically or logically, that those requirements have any affect at all. It makes great sense politically, but has no affect whatsoever on public safety.

    · James Poniewozik, staff writer for Time Magazine, wrote on October 16, 2006: Strangers make up 7% of child molesters; the vast majority are family members. But you wouldn't know it from watching TV. When stranger predators are everywhere on TV, it suggests that they are everywhere in the real world: in your school yard, roaming your street, and --especially-- climbing the DSL line into your kids' bedrooms like an ivied trellis. · Robert Freeman-Longo, former director of the Safer Society, stated: You ban somebody from the community, he has no friends, he feels bad about himself, and you reinforce the very problems that contribute to sex abuse behavior in the first place. You make him a worse sex offender. CONCLUSION Knowing of NCIA's work and having seen this report, author/researcher Henry Scammell volunteered the following: The public has been misled into believing that sex offenders are around every corner and that even those who have been caught will go on to offend forever. The first fear is irrational and the second is less true of sex offenses than of virtually any other type of crime. The only public policies with any hope of success are those based on reliable research instead of fears, and on scientific facts rather than easy political fixes fed by misconceptions.

    Fear is a poor basis for public policy. It raises a nearly unbreachable barrier to the truth. And a policy that is based on the realities --of low recidivism, of responsiveness to treatment and of the relationship between the vast majority of offenders and their victims-- offers the only hope for reducing or eliminating one of our society’s saddest and most challenging problems.

    If we keep in mind the reality that once a sex offender is caught, most of the problem ceases, that preventative programs can cure almost all the rest of the once caught, then clearly treatment must be the goal. When you hear a politician calling for tougher sentences and not backing it up with dollars for treatment programs, then he is looking for votes, not solutions.

    The public's fear would not be so intense today if it were not being propelled by all the exaggerated and often totally false recidivism claims. There have been too many "scarathons" that claim that the boogeyman has become much larger than he really is. Even though the public imagines the molester-kidnapper is everywhere, that simply is not the case.

    Because of all the clamor and panic, what criminologists and treatment scholars have learned to date has plainly not been heard by the public. Sadly, what has been spawned politically so far, such as sex registries and residency restrictions, are measures that will do nothing to make our communities safer, but in fact will do more harm. If we want fewer sex offenders and fewer victims of these types of crime, we have got to be more levelheaded. We should see to it that the public and our legislators inform themselves better about these myths and learn to distinguish the reality from the many distorted ideas that are abroad.

    Copyright 2007-2008 ReformSexOffenderLaws.Org Group


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