Simple Question?

As a person who was educated in science (physics, mathematics and chemistry) I not only like to base my answers on hard facts, but I also like to ask my questions in such a way that they can be answered with hard facts. So I’m going to ask a question, but before you answer, I want you to think about the question.

Fact: The basic reason that we have a registry and community notification is because the community and legislators believe that there is a high re-offense rate among people who have a conviction for a sex crime.

So here’s my question, “What is the re-offense rate for new sex crimes by people who are already on the registry?”

It’s strange how normally the answer comes back with anywhere from 95% as reported by politicians, so-called victims advocates and vigilantes, all the way down to the standard response for most advocates against the registry of 3.5%. Now let’s take some time to think about that.

I did not ask what the mythology said or what common belief is, so we must throw out the 95 percentile. I also did not ask what the re-offense rate was for a specific group of sex offenders within a mandated treatment program, nor did I ask what the re-offense rate was for specific groups such as rapists or those who committed sexual assault just after being released from prison. Those numbers are all slanted because they do not represent the entire population of the people on the registry.  So throw out all the numbers from 95% all the way down to the 3.5%, because those are all invalid answers. You cannot take a specific group from a specific location and say that this is what the re-offense rate is for the entire Registry population.

Three years ago, I set out to find out what the real re-offense rate was for the people who are already on the registry that are involved in a new sex-related crime and I could not get an answer. So I did the next best thing, a friend and I set out to find the re-offense rate for the people that were on the registry in the state of Nebraska. We were able to get from the Nebraska State Patrol a list of everyone that was on the registry and we were also able to see all of their criminal activity. We used that information to create a spreadsheet and a database and the answers that came from that evaluation were surprising.

In Nebraska people were on the registry for crimes going back as far as 1971 and the Nebraska Registry had increased in size since its inception in 1994 through the end of our analysis period in 2011 by 776%. In any given year since its inception the highest re-offense rate for a new sex crime rate was 1% with an overall re-offense rate of 9/10 of one percent. When comparing the total number of people who did reoffend against the total number that did not reoffend from 1994 to 2011 it came out to 2/1000 of 1%, but the main thing that came out is that because of the fluidity of the registry it can only be tracked yearly.

We presented that re-offense rate of 9/10 of one percent to the Nebraska judiciary committee when the legislators were considering even more new sex offender registration laws in 2012. Naturally they chose to not believe our numbers so they commissioned the University of Nebraska at Omaha to do a study and gave the professors access to information we did not have. The study* was completed July 31 of 2013, and not only did the study agree with the fact that the registry has to be looked at on a yearly basis because of the fluidity, but they also found that the overall sex crime re-offense rate came out to 6/10 of one percent for the people that are on the registry. Since then, we have also found a study done by Paul Konicek Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, Office of Policy, Bureau of Planning and Evaluation; again showing the re-offense rate yearly of 1% and less and the overall re-offense rate when comparing the people that do not reoffend with the people that did reoffend in a new sex crime of around 1/100 of 1%

So the answer to the original question “What is the re-offense rate for new sex crimes by people who are already on the registry?” IT IS SOMEWHERE BETWEEN 1% AND 27/1000 OF 1% and that is the number that should be used by all advocates.

Special Note: When any other numbers are quoted advocates should point out the fact that those numbers are generated from limited studies and that is the reason they are coming up with higher numbers, quite simply they do not reflect the re-offense rate of the entire population of the registry.

For more detailed information upon these facts , see   http://sosen.org/blog/2014/11/06/why-are-the-reconviction-rates-so-important.html

*( http://www.unomaha.edu/college-of-public-affairs-and-community-service/nebraska-center-for-justice-research/documents/ne-sex-offender-recidivism-report-2.pdf )

14 comments for “Simple Question?

  1. Scott
    January 13, 2015 at 3:23 am

    The re-offense rate may be low, only because of the registry and citizens making such a hysteria over the presence of the offender and the OMG he’s gonna get you mind set. Many laws are in place in most states that you have to have a residence or else you end up back in jail.

    They don’t want homeless sex offenders running loose because studies (I haven’t researched) showed that when people are faced with hardhips and desperate needs usually they reoffend just to receive help on the inside,(Prison) because the system is so broken and have no outside resources, guessing why some states passed civil confinement laws.

    I question the issue of the NEW offenses and whether or not they are on the rise?

    • willb
      January 13, 2015 at 10:11 am

      The was a study done in the 1960s which is referred to as the Jacks study and was cited in the 1989 study by Furby, Weinrott & Blackshaw study of these studies being the most extensive and meticulously analytical the Jacks study followed 3424 sex offenders for 15 years , and the average yearly re-offense rate was 2/10 of one percent . And these were people who had no treatment program . So if a treatment program wants to say that it is effective, than they had better have a re-offense rate less than 2/10 of one percent , and not to mention that this study was done prior to that hysteria , where the reoffense rate was cited as being above 75% by treatment providers . We now know all those people that were citing high re-offense rates were outright lying and I had a financial interest in stating those high numbers.

      • Scott
        January 14, 2015 at 1:05 pm

        What about brand new first time offenders compared to those who are already on the registry. Are we getting more offenders, VS reoffenders??

        I believe every program is different from one another. This has a lot to do with how strong the facilitaters are to actually get to the hard facts per individual offender and case.
        One thing people should know, you won,t get a certificate saying you were in a sex offender program. This is only because nobody wants to claim you are recovered. You are in recovery until the day you go to the promised land. This is why I believe we need to have a support program in place similar to after care. We are responsible of ourselves to stay in check and keep those we love and know in check as well. especially for our own safety.

  2. Tiggerinma
    January 13, 2015 at 8:06 am

    So how many people currently on the sex offender registry will be convicted of another sex crime this year? SOMEWHERE BETWEEN 1% AND 27/1000 OF 1% and that is the number that should be used by all advocates.

    With 819,218 registrants presently on the registry, at 1%, that would be 8,192 convictions this year. An actual epidemic, but that is nowhere even close to the reoffense rate. I track those within the state of Massachusetts, and in actual sex offender crimes, committed by those on the registry, it is less than 75 per year, and we are a state with a lot of offenders. If we multiply that times fifty states, we only get 3,750.

    As advocates, since the entire justification for the registry is the myth that sex offenders have a very high recidivisim, we need to emphasize the true numbers every time someone quotes much higher ones.

    If 3% of those on the registry actually reoffended with a new sexual offense every year, that would be 24,577 sexual convictions with an average of 491 per state per year or nearly 10 per week per state. Don’t you think the media would be having a hay day if that were true? That’s nearly ten times more than the reconvictions for registrants of all types of crimes which would include parole /probation violations, and failure to register charges.

    We need to be using a number of 1/100 of 1% per year of those on the registry actually are reconvicted of another sexual crime in any single year.

    • Will Bassler
      January 20, 2015 at 12:02 pm

      A special note Massachusetts has 11,399 registered citizens . If less than 75 reoffend in the year. That makes the reoffend raie for Massachusetts 00.0064 % or 64/10,000 of 1%

  3. Mike
    January 14, 2015 at 6:19 am

    Looking at recidivism rates for registrants does not seem a valid way to prove the point. Proponents of the registry will say, “See, it’s working!” A better study would be to look at recidivism rates prior to the registration laws and after. Did registration make a difference?

    • willb
      January 14, 2015 at 9:15 am

      Mike: first of all the recidivism rate is important, because most states use the justification of high recidivism for the existence of the registry.at the time the laws were passed, the recidivism rate was quoted to be 75% or higher, which was an outright lie. Secondly a larger number of the studies that criticize the registry point to the fact that since the registry came into affect. Their has been little or no change in the re-offense rates for people who have been convicted of a sex related crime prior. So the information is out there. So the vigilantes cannot hide behind that kind of comment. Even the Nebraska study compared the re-offense rate prior to the registry and after the registry and saw little or no difference, but they did see an increase in re-offense rates after AWA rules and regulations were placed on people in Nebraska. Many people want to say that treatment reduces re-offense rates. This is another myth , and you only have to look at the Jack study done in the 1960s . That shows people without treatment. After 15 years had a re-offense rate of 3.2% there is your baseline any treatment program that has a reoffense rate higher than 3.2% after 15 years as a failure of the program, not the people in it.

  4. NinjaUnmatched
    January 15, 2015 at 8:06 am

    I live in Connecticut. How can I get this information here so that I can do the same research? I would like to see how the numbers here are.

    • willb
      January 15, 2015 at 10:21 am

      in the Nebraska case, we were able to use the Nebraska State patrol sex offender registry. The way it was set up at that time that listed all the information about a person’s criminal convictions if they were on the registry. Each states community notification information is sent up a little different some only list the crime that brought the person to the registry. Others list the entire criminal past and I believe some don’t list anything related to the crimes. A friend was able to write a program that was able to go in and read all the data and from the public registry then we completed the the spreadsheet and the database.

      One thing that can be done is to press the legislative bodies to force them to do was study of the people on their state registries. Not people coming out of prison, not people in treatment programs, but the entire registry the results will probably surprise you

  5. Kayt
    January 15, 2015 at 5:56 pm

    Doesn’t the arrest and conviction of a RSO due to totally unrelated crimes, or other problems such as failure to register, etc., actually make it look like the RSO has re-offended sexually when in fact he has not?

  6. January 21, 2015 at 9:56 pm

    I knew that the RSO rate was small and I would image that most of those registry’s are those caught up in these undercover internet sex sting operations. I am sure that number of people make up a large majority of the one’s on the registry. I can’t be sure but I’m sure there making a lot of money with the fictitious sting operations. When I read articles on the internet about sting operations in Florida and even my home state Virginia and all over the states one has to say that those stings make up a large number. Correct me if I am wrong but in no way am I for the registry. I myself am a RSO, I’m not proud of myself but it is what it is until it is what it isn’t.

    • Scott
      January 22, 2015 at 5:18 pm

      My best advice for any registered SO is to keep away from social media and chat rooms. Entrapment in my book is pretty sleezy. It is supposed to be against the law.

      “If” you have a desire to use social media and chat rooms, please be sure you only converse with those you know very well and not just some schmo. I do know, sites like Twitter and Facebook ban those from having an account for those who are registered.

  7. KayT
    May 10, 2016 at 6:53 am

    Sexual recidivism is very low, it’s proved by many studies, but the rates stings are higher and remember that denial is something that the FEDS use well. It doesn’t have to be a sex-oriented sting, it can be anything on their list and I was told by a Fed agent that they have large rooms full of computers and each computer is dedicated to a different sting. Gambling and not paying taxes is a big one, according to the Fed. agent.

    So, according to what I’m reading, a lot of arrests that are called recidivism are actually from non-sexually related stings. Example: A man was a registered sex offender and was arrested when he took a puppy into a vet clinic to be taken care of. He found the puppy on the street according to witnesses. He was charged with animal cruelty, arrested and jailed. The papers headlined, “Sex Offender Abuses Puppy.”

  8. Kayt
    May 12, 2016 at 3:34 pm

    I don’t care who you are, if you don’t read anything else today, you’ve got to read this!

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/01/animal-abuse-registry_n_4195903.html

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