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.