A PARTIAL FIX OF A BROKEN GUIDELINE

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A Meta-Analysis of Recidivism Studies

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Collateral Consequences

CCRC scholarship round-up – August 2019 This article is a comprehensive list of recent scholarly studies. The main topics covered are: Legal collateral consequences Collateral consequences and criminal procedure Sex offender registration laws Informal collateral consequences Criminal records, expungement, sealing, and other relief mechanisms The following excerpt is the introduction to the listing of these scholastic studies and reports. Of note are two academic reports pertaining to sex...

Pell Grants for Prisoners

Should the decades old ban on Pell Grants for Prisoners be lifted? New study says yes. From the Vera Institute of Justice joint report on the benefits of educational opportunities for people while incarcerated in the U.S.: Increase employment rates among formerly incarcerated students by 10 percent, on average; combined earnings among all formerly incarcerated people would increase by $45.3 million during the first year of release alone;Provide...

Challenging Views on Sex Offender Laws

Master Thesis by Fresno State student Studied California Sex Offender Laws and Student Attitudes He surveyed more than 400 students on campus in spring 2018 to test whether their attitude on sex offender laws could be changed by providing expert information on current law and what experts view as better solutions than the lifetime registry, such as prevention and rehabilitation. "It was three different things that we tried...

1 in 5 Adults on Probation or Parole in the U.S.

[caption id="attachment_976" align="alignleft" width="195"] Click image to go to this article.[/caption] Better strategies can cut that rate while protecting public safety, decreasing drug misuse, and reducing incarceration More than a decade ago, policymakers around the country seeking to protect public safety, improve accountability, and save taxpayer dollars initiated a wave of bipartisan reforms that has reduced the number of people behind bars in many states. Because of their...

How Safe Are Trick-or-Treaters?

An Analysis of Child Sexual Assaults on Halloween [caption id="attachment_832" align="alignleft" width="300"] Click Image to read PDF[/caption] In this 12-page analysis of the statistics reported (Click Here to read PDF) on sexual abuse crimes committed on Halloween, published by the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers. Read how there is little if any evidence backing up harsh Halloween restrictions of RSO.

Where Sex Offender Registration Laws Miss the Point

Rose, Justin P. (2017) "Where Sex Offender Registration Laws Miss the Point: Why a Return to an Individualized Approach and a Restoration of Judicial Discretion in Sentencing Will Better Serve the Governmental Goals of Registration and Protect Individual Liberties from Unnecessary Encroachments," Mitchell Hamline Law Journal of Public Policy and Practice: Vol. 38, Article 2. Where Sex Offender Registration Laws Miss the Point_ Why a Return

Sex offender laws – Journalist Resources

Check out these resources used by journalist on the topic of sex offender laws, registries, and policy questions. Click the following link for an example of the resources available: “Sex Offender Laws in the United States: Smart Policy or Disproportionate Sanctions?”   [caption id="attachment_645" align="aligncenter" width="620"] Sex offender laws, registries and policy questions: Research roundup[/caption] Sex offender laws, registries and policy questions: Research roundup

Grand Challenge – Social Worker’s CTA

Link to the study: 2016-Grand-Challenge-Registry-Reform [caption id="attachment_562" align="alignleft" width="300"] Homeless[/caption] In this report by prominent social work scholars, we learn some of the failures of the current state of and future expansions to National SORN laws. They have not lived up to their claim to increasing public safety and in fact have contributed to less public safety on a few levels, according to the research into the effectiveness of...

The Good, the Bad, and the Incomprehensible: Typifications of Victims and Offenders as Antecedents of Beliefs About Sex Crime

The Good, the Bad, and the Incomprehensible He pointed to an array of typical descriptors of sex offenders—“degenerates,” “sex fiends,” “creatures,” and “sexual psychopaths” (p. 543)—all of which, per Sutherland, highlight that sex offending is perceived as pathology or a dispositional “mental malady”—in turn, the only solution would be to “segregate such persons preferably before, but at least after their sex crimes” (p. 544). Here again, public opinion...

Sex Offender Residence Restrictions

Sexual violence is a serious social problem and policy-makers continue to wrestle with how to best address the public’s concerns about sex offenders. Recent initiatives have included social policies that are designed to prevent sexual abuse by restricting where convicted sex offenders can live. As these social policies become more popular, lawmakers and citizens should question whether such policies are evidence-based in their development and implementation, and whether such policies are cost-efficient and effective in reaching their stated goals.

Residence Restrictions

Many states have prohibited sex offenders from residing within close proximity to a school, park, day care center, school bus stop, or place where children congregate, with the most common restriction zone being 1,000 feet. In Spring 2005, after a series of child abductions and murders by convicted sex offenders, hundreds of jurisdictions across the U.S. began initiating housing restrictions with increasingly larger buffer zones, often 2,500 feet, or about one half mile. These laws have essentially banned sex offenders from living in some cities.

The constitutionality of residence restrictions was challenged in Iowa, and the state’s 2,000 foot restriction law was overturned in 2003. The Iowa Supreme court, however, later ruled that any infringement on sex offenders’ freedom of residency was superseded by the state’s compelling interest in protecting its citizens. The American Civil Liberties Union has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on the issue. Housing restrictions have passed in most localities with little resistance. Child safety is rightly the primary concern when sex offender restrictions are imposed. It seems to makes sense that decreasing access to potential victims would be a feasible strategy for preventing sex crimes. There is no evidence, however, that such laws are effective in reducing recidivistic sexual violence. On the other hand, such laws aggravate the scarcity of housing options for sex offenders, forcing them out of metropolitan areas and farther away from the social support, employment opportunities, and social services that are known to aid offenders in successful community re-entry (Minnesota Department of Corrections, 2003). Sex offender residence restrictions Levenson, page 3 Are sex offender residence restrictions evidence-based?

Housing restrictions appear to be based largely on three myths that are repeatedly propagated by the media:

1) all sex offenders reoffend; 2) treatment does not work; and 3) the concept of “stranger danger.” Research does not support these myths, but there is research to suggest that such policies may ultimately be counterproductive.

All sex offenders reoffend. There is a common belief that the vast majority of sex offenders will repeat their crimes. In fact, several large studies by both the U.S. and Canadian governments have found that sex offense recidivism rates are much lower than commonly believed. The U.S. Department of Justice found that over a three year period after being released from prison, 5.3% of sex offenders were rearrested for a new sex crime (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2003). Studies by Canadian researchers involving over 29,000 sex offenders from North America and Europe found a 14% recidivism rate among all sex offenders; child molesters were re-arrested at a slightly lower rate of about 13%, and rapists at a slightly higher rate of 19% (Hanson & Bussiere, 1998; Hanson & Morton-Bourgon, 2004). Despite the belief that sex offenders have the highest recidivism rates of all criminals, the Department of Justice found that sexual perpetrators were less likely to be rearrested for any new crime than were other types of offenders (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2003). Official recidivism data always underestimate true reoffense rates, but it is clear that the majority of sexual offenders are unlikely to be rearrested for new sex crimes.

Treatment does not work. The myth that treatment can not be helpful to sex offenders is based largely on a highly publicized meta-analytic study that was unable to detect a treatment effect among outcome studies conducted in the 1970’s and 1980’s (Furby, Weinrott, & Blackshaw, 1989). Recent data have reported more promising results, suggesting that cognitive-behavioral treatment reduces sex offense recidivism by nearly 40% (Hanson, Gordon, Harris, Marques, Murphy, Quinsey, & Seto, 2002; Losel & Schmucker, 2005). Again, recidivism rates were lower than commonly believed; 17% for untreated offenders, and 10% for treated offenders (Hanson et al., 2002). Even in studies where significant overall treatment effects are not detected, researchers have found that sex offenders who Sex offender residence restrictions Levenson, page 4 successfully complete a treatment program reoffend less often than those who do not demonstrate that they “got it” (Marques, Miederanders, Day, Nelson, & van Ommeren, 2005).

Stranger danger. Sexual offender policies are also based on the myth of “stranger danger,” despite the fact that most sexual perpetrators are well known to their victims. The Department of Justice found that perpetrators reported that their victims were strangers in less than 30% of rapes and 15% of sexual assaults (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1997). A study reviewing sex crimes as reported to police revealed that 93% of child sexual abuse victims knew their abuser; 34.2% were family members and 58.7% acquaintances (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2000). Only seven percent of child victims reported that they were abused by strangers. About 40% of sexual assaults take place in the victim’s own home, and 20% take place in the home of a friend, neighbor or relative (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1997).

Tragic cases of child abduction and sexually motivated murder receive extraordinary media attention, and the publicity of such events creates a sense of alarm and urgency among citizens. In reality, such cases are extremely rare; it is estimated that about 100 stranger abductions occur in the United States each year (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, 2005). About .7% of all murders involve sexual assault, and in fact, the prevalence of sexual murders declined by about half between the late 1970’s and the mid 1990’s (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1997). About 75% of sexual murder victims are adults (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1997). In contract to sexual assault in general, the majority of sexually motivated murder victims were attacked by strangers or acquaintances.

Do residence restrictions work? Despite overwhelming public and political support, there is no evidence that proximity to schools increases recidivism, or, conversely, that housing restrictions reduce reoffending or increase community safety. Advocates of residence restrictions believe that such laws will diminish the likelihood that sex offenders will come in contact with children whom they might potentially victimize. In Colorado, however, it was found that molesters who reoffended while under supervision did not live closer than non-recidivists to schools or child care centers (Colorado Department of Public Safety, 2004). In Minnesota, sex offenders’ proximity to schools or parks did not increase the likelihood of reoffense (Minnesota Department of Corrections, 2003). Sex offender residence restrictions Levenson,

Continue readingSex Offender Residence Restrictions

The Adam Walsh Act: An Examination of Sex Offender Risk Classification Systems

The Adam Walsh Act: An Examination of Sex Offender Risk Classification Systems Kristen M. Zgoba, Michael Miner, Jill Levenson, Raymond Knight, Elizabeth Letourneau, and David Thornton Abstract This study was designed to compare the Adam Walsh Act (AWA) classification tiers with actuarial risk assessment instruments and existing state classification schemes in their respective abilities to identify sex offenders at high risk to re-offend. Data from 1,789 adult sex...

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