We now have added "Informational Posts" which are tidbits of information that may come in handy at some point.

Sex offender residency restrictions: What does the research say?

1-29-2015 National:

Earlier this week, I reported Muleshoe could set an ordinance restricting registered sex offenders from living near schools, playgrounds and daycare centers.

More on that here: Muleshoe woman cites child safety in support of sex offender ordinance

Some of our online commenters suggested City Council consider more research on the subject before they take action. As always, thank you for your feedback.

But what does the research say? Searching for studies that seemed as objective as possible, here is some of what I found:

* About 93 percent of sex crimes are committed by an offender already acquainted with the victim, according to Bureau of Justice Statistics. Personal observation covering sexual-assault cases in the South Plains supports this statistic. I have not yet covered a case in which an offender attacked a stranger on a playground, but that does not mean it couldn’t happen. See Chart HERE

* A 2007 study by the Minnesota Department of Corrections that reviewd 224 cases of sexual-offender recidivism determined those repeat offenders committed the attacks more than a mile away from their homes. The researchers summarized, “Not one of the 224 sex offenses would likely have been deterred by a residency restrictions law ... Even when offenders established direct contact with victims, they were unlikely to do so close to where they lived.”

* A 2008 study from Lynn University, the University of New Mexico and the University of Nevada researched recidivism rates among Florida sex offenders. It did not find a correlation between the offenders’ homes in proximity to schools and playgrounds and their likelihood of reoffending.

The study concluded, “Sex offenders who lived within closer proximity to schools and daycare centers did not reoffend more frequently than those who lived farther away ... The time that police and probation officers spend addressing housing issues is likely to divert law enforcement resources away from behaviors that truly threaten our communities in order to attend to a problem that simply does not exist.”

* The Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers supports alternatives to residency restrictions as mental health treatment and access to housing and employment.

Sex-offender notification laws and residency requirements began growing in popularity in the 1990s. Now, more than 30 states and hundreds of cities nationwide hold some form restrictions on where sex offenders are allowed to live.

If Muleshoe adopts such an ordinance, it will have company in neighboring South Plains towns Crosbyton and Lamesa. ..Source.. by Josie Musico

A Multilevel Analysis of Registered Sex Offender Violation Status: The Role of Neighborhood Disadvantage and Social Services

2015 California:

This research attempted to clarify the determinants of registered sex offender violations using individual-level and contextual characteristics under social disorganization theory.

Data on registered sex offenders in Fresno County, CA and census data were analyzed to examine the influences of offender characteristics, neighborhood disadvantage, and accessibility to social services on violation risks.

Multilevel logistic regression models indicated that those offenders living in disadvantaged neighborhoods faced a higher risk of registration violations, while such an effect was mitigated by the accessibility to social services.

Based on the findings, policy implications of social services as a protective factor and strategic management of the registration policies were discussed. ..Full Source.. by Donna M. Snow, George Kikuchi,* and Jason Kissner

Regulating Sexual Harm: Strangers, Intimates, and Social Institutional Reform

2014 National:

The criminal regulation of sexual harm in the United States is afflicted by deep pathology. Although sexual harm appears before the law in a variety of forms — from violent rape, to indecent exposure, to the sexual touching by an older child of a younger child — the prevailing U.S. criminal regulatory framework responds to this wide range of conduct with remarkable uniformity.

All persons so convicted are labeled “sex offenders,” and most are subjected to registration, community notification, and residential restrictions, among other sanctions. These measures purport to prevent the perpetration of further criminal sexual harm by publicizing the identities and restricting the residential opportunities of persons presumed to be strangers to their victims.

But even as these measures render many subject to them homeless and unemployable, sexual abuse remains pervasive and significantly underreported in our schools, prisons, military, and between intimates in families. Thus, at once, the U.S. criminal regulatory regime constructs a peculiarly overbroad category of feared persons, compels a misguided approach to this population, and neglects the most prevalent forms of vulnerability to sexual predation and assault.

This essay argues that an alternative social institutional reform framework could address pervasive forms of sexual harm more meaningfully and with fewer problems than attend the prevailing criminal regulatory framework. This alternative framework would depart in large measure from purportedly preventive post-conviction criminal regulation, focusing instead on institutional, structural, and social dynamics that enable sexual violence and abuse. ..Source.. by Allegra M. McLeod, Georgetown University Law Center

Disgust, Dehumanization, and the Courts’ Response to Sex Offender Legislation

1-12-201 National:

I. Introduction
Sex offenders1 have been subject to unprecedented restrictions and punishment. The government’s treatment of sex offenders is a clear example of the dangers of laws derived from and upheld because of the emotion of disgust. Disgust has led to a dehumanization of this category of people, which has led to a stripping of their constitutional rights. The law’s treatment of sex offenders is a clear example of why the law should eschew employing the emotion of disgust during all proceedings. In addition, the courts’, particularly the Supreme Court’s, treatment of the other branches’ actions regarding sex offenders is illustrative of why the law needs to insist upon empirical data in support of legislation and why the courts should not always defer to the other branches’ findings.

II. Background
Currently, a sex crime can include rape, statutory rape, fondling, coercive and noncoercive acts between adults and minors, consensual sex between adults in public, public exposure, public urination, and, until Lawrence v Texas,“sodomy” between two consenting adults.2 Many sex offenders are juveniles.3 After the medicalization of “sexual deviance” in the 1950s, “treatments” for sexual deviance included group therapy, electroshock, and frontal lobotomy.4 Since the 1990s, criminal sex offenders5 have been placed under increasing restrictions, to be met after they have served their criminal sentences, such as civil confinement, registration requirements, residency restrictions, GPS tracking, and chemical castration.6 Some communities have barred sex offenders from hurricane shelters,7 and some jurisdictions bar sex offenders from using a computer.8

How likely are sex offenders to re-offend?

11-22-2009 National:

Studies suggest rates lower than popularly believed.

Sex offenders are often seen as incurable deviants who lurk in the shadows, waiting to prey on unsuspecting innocents.

But the term "sex offender," is actually much more complex, experts say, and a myriad of misconceptions exist about common traits associated with the population.

Not only that, but according to recent studies, recidivism rates for sexual felons may be lower than most people believe.

"The public doesn't quite understand recidivism," says Dr. Adam Deming, a psychologist and director of the Sex Offender Management and Monitoring Program. "They tend to believe all will recidivate."

"It varies tremendously," adds Dr. Jeff Burnett, a Mishawaka doctor who specializes in sex offender treatment, psychological evaluations and psychosexual assessments.

Community members often want to be cautious and conservative when assessing the danger of sex offenders because sexual assault and abuse can be so devastating.