Wednesday, February 26, 2014

the mystery of the missing sex offenders

A fear-mongering news report from Omaha's KETV talks about sex offenders who go missing.
According to Nebraska’s sex offender registry, there are more than 900 convicted offenders living in Douglas County alone. 
Chris White, a deputy U.S. marshal with the Metro Area Fugitive Task Force, said about 90 of those convicted offenders are hiding. 
“There are more people absconding every day. That number compiles [sic] unless we get after it,” White said.
A multi-agency task force tracks down the missing sex offenders.
“I assume that they're reoffending, that they're dropping off the radar because they don't want law enforcement to know what they're doing,” White said.
Is that the only reason a sex offender might choose not to register? If the deputy U.S. marshal were paying attention, he might notice that there are one, two, three, and more reasons.

Ninety out of nine hundred sex offenders are presumed reoffending, according to White. But are they? Of all the sex offenders who have dropped off the radar, how many have been rearrested for sex crimes?

Because the recidivism rate for registered sex offenders is about 5%, we can estimate that about 45 of the 900 commit another sex offense. But wait: Failure to register is considered a sex offense even though there IS no sex offense committed--so of the 45, how many of them go back to prison for failure to register? The reporter doesn't even touch on that question.

If deputy marshal White had his way, all ninety of the missing would be back in prison, even without them having committed another sex offense.

The sex offender registry is touted as a way to protect our communities. The Nebraska registry says:

Nebraska State Statute 29-4002 declares that sex offenders present a high risk to commit repeat offenses and that efforts of law enforcement agencies to protect their communities, conduct investigations, and quickly apprehend sex offenders are impaired by the lack of available information about individuals who have pleaded guilty to or have been found guilty of sex offenses and who live in their jurisdiction. Because of that, the legislature determined that state policy should assist efforts of local law enforcement agencies to protect their communities by requiring sex offenders to register with local law enforcement agencies as provided by the Sex Offender Registration Act. 
Five percent is a high risk for repeat offenses? That seems a bit hysterical when other recidivism rates are 70.2% for robbers, 74% for burglars, and nearly 79% for car thieves. Nebraskans should be concerned that their state statutes are based on information not even close to accurate.

The Nebraska registry explains how it is to be used:

This information is to be used to provide public notice and information about a registrant so a community can develop constructive plans to prepare themselves and their family. Sex Offenders have "always" been in our communities. The notification process will remove their ability to act secretly.
The community would do better to prepare themselves and their families for the sex offenders who have yet to be apprehended because most sex offenses are first-time offenses. The next sex offense in your town will in all likelihood be committed by someone not on the registry.

The sex offender registries protecst no one, though it is possible it protects jobs for members of the task force busy tracking down 90 people--ninety people for whom the task force has no reason to believe have committed another sex crime. 

Imagining someone is out there committing crimes is not the same as reasonable suspicion. Statistics say it isn't reasonable at all.

Another perspective on the same KETV news report: 
The research shows that former offenders in Nebraska have a year-to-year reoffense rate of less than 1 percent. It shows that Nebraska's public shaming website drives people from their homes. The City of Omaha has a residency restriction ordinance that illegally created a new classification of "predator" -- some harmless people with misdemeanors fall under the classification. Why not assume someone's been evicted because of the ordinance? That's just as likely or more likely than the reoffending. 
Nebraskans Unafraid has documented cases where a former offender has reported the correct address to a local sheriff, but the address still ends up listed incorrectly on the registry because of a clerical error. An offender might go to prison because of a clerical error. It is as easy to assume someone in a short-staffed law enforcement office is messing things up as it is to assume that a former offender is reoffending.


Margaret Moon said...

I would comment on this statement
"Chris White, a deputy U.S. marshal with the Metro Area Fugitive Task Force, said about 90 of those convicted offenders are hiding.
“There are more people absconding every day. That number compiles [sic] unless we get after it,” White said."
Mr. White is justifying his, and other deputy's, position. If the public does not believe there is a threat it will not accept the huge amounts of money spent on protecting it from this mythical scourge.
In 2012 the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation stated that the recidivism rate (a new sex offense) among registered offenders is 1.9%. They didn't say it very loud because the public might realize they are supporting a lot of agencies and advocates, lawyers, law enforcement, and prisons for NOTHING! Because more than 98% of those who are registered will never recidivate! And research shows that none of the current punitive measures have been shown to be effective! But they create lots of jobs for the "Prison Industry."

Anon q said...

Those people belief's are indeed unfounded and baseless. I have always been mystified as to why no one ever ask's the people making these claims to prove their statements.

"They must find it difficult...those who have taken authority as the truth, rather than truth as the authority." - Gerald Massey