Thursday, April 05, 2012

Gaming Sex Offenders

"Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that more than 3,500 accounts of New York registered sex offenders have been purged from online video game platforms as part of 'Operation: Game Over,' a groundbreaking initiative with participation from Microsoft, Apple, Blizzard Entertainment, Electronic Arts, Disney Interactive Media Group, Warner Brothers and Sony. The Attorney General’s database sweep is a first-of-its-kind effort to protect children from predators on video game networks in New York State."

It is notable that the only case mentioned in the Attorney General's press release is that of "Richard Kretovic, a 19-year-old man from Monroe County, [who] pled guilty to sexual abuse charges after meeting a 12-year-old boy on the popular online video game system Xbox LIVE." Mr. Kretovic was not a registered sex offender at the time of his crime, and this announced action would not have prevented his crime. Apparently, the Attorney General's office is unable to point to any incident in New York State where a registered sex offender victimized someone using a gaming network, or they would have mentioned it. I make it a point to stay on top of such things, and I have never heard of any such case.

The primary risk is not from offenders we know about but those we don't know about. In New York State, 95% of those arrested for sex crimes have no prior convictions for sex crimes and thus are not listed on any registry. Training workshops were held across New York State last week that were attended by hundreds of law enforcement officers, probation and parole officers, etc. Research presented there indicates that New York's sex offender management policies have not made our communities safer.

“Operation: Game Over” is made possible by New York's eSTOP law which requires registered sex offenders to report their e-mail addresses and other Internet identifiers. They are then excluded from Facebook and other networks. Of course, this also prevents them from posting the true facts about registered sex offenders and "Operation: Game Over" because many news and media outlets require Facebook accounts in order to post comments.

Who is playing the real games here?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

This chart says it all: The sex offender registry has had no useful impact!

This week the New York State Alliance of Sex Offender Service Providers is providing training at several venues across the state on the subject "Effectiveness of New York State Sex Offender Management: Are We Making Communities Safer?" The training is being conducted by Jeffrey Sandler, who has a PhD in Criminal Justice from University at Albany. The Power Point presentation which will be used at this training is available online.

This chart, RSO (Registerable Sex Offense) Arrest Counts, from the presentation says it all. It depicts every sex offense arrest in New York State for 21 years (10 years before the enactment of the sex offender registration law to 11 years afterward). The vertical line separates the before and after periods. The green line at the bottom shows arrests for those who had previously been convicted of a sex offense. The chart dramatically illustrates that 96% of those arrested for sex crimes in New York State have no prior convictions for sex crimes and thus are not listed on any registry. It also dramatically illustrates that the registry has had no impact on recidivism. Contrary to popular opinion, sex offender recidivism was low before the registry and low afterwards.

(Note that "RSO" here does not mean "registered sex offender" but "registerable sex offense.") (Click the image to enlarge)

● Two hundred and fifty-two months (21 years) of statewide arrest data from 1986 [10 years before SORA] to 2006 [11 years afterward]

● Included every sexual offense arrest [and therefore every sex offender arrested] during that time
– Over 170,000 sexual offenses
– Over 160,000 different sex offenders

Data is taken from Does a Watched Pot Boil? A Time-Series Analysis of New York State’s Sex Offender Registration and Notification Law, Jeffrey C. Sandler, Naomi J. Freeman, Kelly M. Socia, Psychology, Public Policy, and Law (2008), 14, 284-302

Friday, March 02, 2012

Hundreds of sex offender registry web sites drop bogus recidivism statistic

Offender Watch Systems runs hundreds of sex offender registry web sites across the country, both on the state and local level. This includes several counties in NY. Each of these web sites contains a presentation which states: "50% of sex offenders re-offend."

I posted an article in 2008 about this bogus statistic and my communications with the Vice President of Offender Watch Systems.

A few days ago, Tom Condon in a column in the Hartford Courant questioned why the Connecticut Sex Offender Registry web site was giving a 50% recidivism figure when a recent Connecticut study showed the actual recidivism rate was 2.7 percent.

No doubt this caused Connecticut to look into this bogus statistic. The result was that Offender Watch Systems dropped this statistic from the Connecticut site and also from the hundreds of other sites that use their presentation and service.

This is a long sought after victory. I and others have been writing the agencies that have been broadcasting this bogus statistic for years with no effect.

The use of this bogus statistic illustrates the larger lesson that there is much to gain financially and politically from fanning sex offender hysteria.