Over the last few years a number of advocates have referred to studies pointing out the number of people that reoffend in a new sex crime. Those numbers are exceedingly small in comparison to the numbers that were used to justify the existence of the registry, not to mention the numbers used in courts decisions that continue to allow the registry to exist. As I have pointed out in other articles on SOSEN those studies are extremely limited in their scope and findings, primarily because they do not address all the people that are affected by the registry, or community notification, as well as all the rules and regulations that have been added that restrict a person who is placed on the registries constitutional liberties. They also do not take into account people that are already on the registry who have not reoffended for long periods of time. The only true and accurate studies will be the ones that take into account everyone that is placed upon the registry either in a specific state or at a national level. To my knowledge there are only two that address this issue of looking at a entire state registry to see the reconviction rate for a new sex crime. One is the Kitt & Bassler study (1) done in 2012 and presented to the Nebraska Legislature at the Judiciary hearing, which prompted the Nebraska Legislature to commission a study into the reoffend rate of people on the Nebraska registry which was completed in July of 2013 (2) the findings of both of these studies show that the people on the Nebraska registry reoffend at less than 1% per year.the Kitt study showed an average yearly re-offense rate of 78/100 of one percent and the Nebraska study showed an yearly average of 6/10 of 1%.
Now it’s time to point out something that should’ve been realized to begin with and that is the damage to Non-Reoffending registrants and their family members. What exactly is a Non-Reoffending registrant, it is a person who has chosen not to reoffend, They have not done this because they have been through some type of treatment program, the statistics show that treatment programs increase the risk of recidivism(3), they have not done this out of fear of reconviction, they have done this out of a personal choice to become better people and to make sure that they have no more victims.
Why are the Non-Reoffending registrants so important? Because they are the forgotten people, the 99% who will not reoffend in any given year or over any period of time in a new sex crime. One of the things that the limited studies have proven is that most of the new sex crimes happen within the first three years of a person being released from confinement. Normally the person is still on parole. The registry has absolutely no effect on the people that do reoffend because they are reincarcerated immediately and no longer a danger to society. So what is left to be on the registry? The ones that do not reoffend!
I think it is time that advocates focus their energy not on the low re-offending rate. But rather on the proof of the Non-Reoffending registrants as viable members of the community who have been denied their constitutional rights. That denial is not through any judicial means, but through a legislative actions. In other articles SOSEN has talked about the fact that a person’s reputation and standing in the community is in fact a protected liberty interest (4) We have also discussed attacking the registry as a bill of attainder (5) there stands enough case law at the present time to show that the registry affects the 99% of Non-Reoffending registrants in a punitive manner. the registry through community notification is shaming a person in the community they live in and shaming is a form of punishment. (6).