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.