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

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

February 12, 2015:


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 offenders released from prison in four states were collected (Minnesota, New Jersey, Florida, and South Carolina). On average, the sexual recidivism rate was approximately 5% at 5 years and 10% at 10 years. AWA Tier 2 offenders had higher Static-99R scores and higher recidivism rates than Tier 3 offenders, and in Florida, these inverse correlations were statistically significant.

Actuarial measures and existing state tier systems, in contrast, did a better job of identifying high-risk offenders and recidivists. As well, we examined the distribution of risk assessment scores within and across tier categories, finding that a majority of sex offenders fall into AWA Tier 3, but more than half score low or moderately low on the Static-99R.

The results indicate that the AWA sex offender classification scheme is a poor indicator of relative risk and is likely to result in a system that is less effective in protecting the public than those currently implemented in the states studied. ..Source.. by Kristen M. Zgoba and Michael Miner and Jill Levenson and Raymond Knight and Elizabeth Letourneau and David Thornton

Medical Problems of State and Federal Prisoners and Jail Inmates, 2011–2012

February 5, 2015 NCJ 248491:

Presents the prevalence of medical problems among state and federal prisoners and jail inmates, highlighting differences in rates of chronic conditions and infectious diseases by demographic characteristic. The report describes health care services and treatment received by prisoners and jail inmates with health problems, including doctor 's visits, use of prescription medication, and other types of treatment. It also explains reasons why inmates with health problems were not receiving care and describes inmate satisfaction with health services received while incarcerated. Data were from the 2011 –12 National Inmate Survey.

  • In 2011 –12, an estimated 40% of state and federal prisoners and jail inmates reported having a current chronic medical condition while about half reported ever having a chronic medical condition.
  • Twenty-one percent of prisoners and 14% of jail inmates reported ever having tuberculosis, hepatitis B or C, or other STDs (excluding HIV or AIDS).
  • Both prisoners and jail inmates were more likely than the general population to report ever having a chronic condition or infectious disease. The same finding held true for each specific condition or infectious disease.
  • Among prisoners and jail inmates, females were more likely than males to report ever having a chronic condition.
  • High blood pressure was the most common chronic condition reported by prisoners (30%) and jail inmates (26%).
  • About 66% of prisoners and 40% of jail inmates with a chronic condition at the time of interview reported taking prescription medication.
  • More than half of prisoners (56%) and jail inmates (51%) said that they were either very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the health care services received since admission.

..Source.. by BJS, Marcus Berzofsky, Dr. P.H., RTI International, Laura M. Maruschak, BJS Statistician, Jennifer Unangst, RTI International

Back to the Future: The Influence of Criminal History on Risk Assessment

2-5-2015 National:

Evidence-based practices providing an empirical basis for predicting recidivism risk have become a primary focus across criminal justice decision points. Criminal history measures are the most common and heavily weighted factors in risk assessment tools, yet is such substantial reliance fully justified? The empirical and normative values placed on criminal history enjoy such commendation by criminal justice officials, practitioners, and the public that these practices are rarely questioned. This paper fills the gap by introducing and exploring various issues from legal, scientific, and pragmatic perspectives.

As a general rule, a common assumption is that past behavior dictates an individual’s likely future conduct. This axiom is often applied to criminal behavior, more specifically, in that prior offending is considered a primary driver to predict future recidivism.

Criminal justice officials have a long history of formally and informally incorporating risk judgments into a variety of criminal justice decisions, ranging from bail, sentencing, parole, supervisory conditions, and programming. A more contemporary addendum represents empirically informed risk assessment practices that integrate actuarial tools and/or structured professional judgments.

Various criminal history measures pervade these newer evidence-based practices as well. Instead of presuming the value and significance of prior crimes in judging future recidivism risk, this Article raises and critically analyzes certain unexpected consequences resulting from the significant reliance upon criminal history in risk assessment judgments.

Among the more novel issues addressed include: (1) creating a ratchet effect whereby the same criminal history event can be counted numerous times; (2) resulting in informal, three-strikes types of penalties; (3) counting nonadjudicated criminal behaviors and acquitted conduct; (4) proportionality of punishment; (5) disciplining hypothetical future crime; (6) punishing status; and (7) inadequately accounting for the age-crime curve.

In the end, criminal history has a role to play in future risk judgments, but these issues represent unanticipated outcomes that deserve attention. ..Source.. by Melissa Hamilton, University of Houston Law Center

Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2013

June 2014: NCJ 243299

Presents data on crime and safety at school from the perspectives of students, teachers, and principals. This annual report, a joint effort by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), provides the most current detailed statistical information on the nature of crime in schools.

This report contains 22 indicators of crime at school from a number of sources, including the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), the School Crime Supplement to the NCVS, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, the School Survey on Crime and Safety, and the School and Staffing Survey.

Topics covered include victimization at school, teacher injury, bullying and cyber-bullying, school conditions, fights, weapons, availability and student use of drugs and alcohol, and student perceptions of personal safety at school.

  • In 2012, students ages 12 to 18 experienced about 1.4 million nonfatal victimizations at school, including 615,600 thefts and 749,200 violent victimizations.
  • The total nonfatal crime victimization rate of students ages 12 to 18 at school increased from 35 victimizations per 1,000 students in 2010 to 52 per 1,000 in 2012. The victimization rate away from school also increased, from 27 per 1,000 in 2010 to 38 per 1,000 in 2012.
  • Following nearly two decades of steady decline, the total nonfatal victimization rate at school was higher in 2012 (52 victimizations per 1,000 students) than in 2010 (35 per 1,000) for students ages 12 to 18. The victimization rate away from school was also higher in 2012 (38 victimizations per 1,000 students) than in 2010 (27 per 1,000).
  • During the 2009–10 school year, 85% of public schools recorded that one or more crime incidents had taken place at school, amounting to an estimated 1.9 million crimes. This translates to a rate of 40 crimes per 1,000 public school students enrolled in 2009–10.
  • In 2009–10, about 74% of public schools recorded one or more violent incidents of crime, 16% recorded one or more serious violent incidents, 44% recorded one or more thefts, and 68% recorded one or more other incidents.

..Source.. by Rachel E. Morgan, Ph.D., BJS Statistician, Jana Kemp, Amy Rathbun, and Simone Robers, American Institutes for Research, Thomas D. Synder, National Center for Education Statistics

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