Sex Offender Hysteria

Via Sentencing Law and Policy, I see that USA Today has a new article on sex offender statistics that dispels some of the myths created by recent high-profile cases. Among them:

Sex crimes against children have dropped dramatically in the last decade. An online national sex-offender registry was launched in July. And recent research shows doctors can better predict which offenders may strike again....

Dramatic drop in cases. Government figures show the rate of sexual assaults against adolescents ages 12 to 17 plunged 79% from 1993 through 2003, and the number of substantiated sex-abuse cases involving kids of all ages fell 39% in the same time period. [One expert], who has analyzed the data, sees multiple reasons for the decline: Greater incarceration of offenders, more therapy and use of psychiatric drugs, economic improvement in the 1990s and heightened public concern. ...

Treatment helps. Group therapy dropped the recidivism rate from 17% to 10%, according to a 2002 study that [anther expert] co-wrote. He studied 9,454 sex offenders in 43 states.

I wrote about the release of Colorado's first "sexually violent predator" earlier today over at 5280. He was a 20 year old convicted of raping a 17 year old inebriated female he met at a party. He did six years in prison for the crime. The police chief of Fort Collins held a town hall meeting in a packed church to warn the community about the offender's release. What point does this ostracism make?

Here are some more myths and facts about sex offenders from the Department of Justice Center for Sex Offender Management.

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    Re: Sex Offender Hysteria (1.00 / 1) (#2)
    by peacrevol on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:44 PM EST
    If they know so much about all this then I guess Michael Jackson is innocent, else why would he still be free?

    Re: Sex Offender Hysteria (none / 0) (#8)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Aug 30, 2005 at 11:35:57 AM EST
    Regarding the Virginia sodomy laws listed above, these have basically been struck down by the supreme court. Article. The Decision was 6-3 with O'Connor in favor of striking the law down. With the possibly two conservative judges being appointed in the next few years, we could see ridiculous laws like these being upheld.

    Re: Sex Offender Hysteria (none / 0) (#1)
    by jackl2400 on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:44 PM EST
    That's great! Well, judging from other crime-fighting fronts (War on Drugs), there can be only one correct response to the falling child sex crime rate...ratchet up incarceration penalties and online sex offender registries, abolish parole, castrate offenders, and do whatever we can do to create an even bigger moral panic! See, it's working, so let's do more of the same. That's what I love about crime statistics: whether they rise or fall, they always provide fodder for more laws, police and prisons in the prison-post-industrial economy!

    Re: Sex Offender Hysteria (none / 0) (#3)
    by cpinva on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:45 PM EST
    If they know so much about all this then I guess Michael Jackson is innocent, else why would he still be free?
    according to a "jury of his peers", yes he is. if you have concrete evidence to the contrary, i'm sure the local D.A. would love to hear from you. you don't? i thought not. do i think mr. jackson is weird? oh yeah, no question about it! do i think he has unnatural relations with underage boys? it really matters not what i do or don't think, since i have no first-hand knowledge either way. to the issue: one area i've always had a difficulty with, in regards to "sex offenders", is how the term is defined. for example; walking home from a party, you find yourself in desperate need of facilities, and none are available. you utilize the nearest large bush (no, not the prez, one growing out of the ground! geez, get your minds out of the gutter for just one moment!), however, you are seen by the local constabulary, who promptly places you under arrest for indecent exposure. possibly, reckless endangerment of a minor plant as well. you are, from that point on, classified as a "sex offender" in many states, even though sex was the farthest thing from your mind. i wonder how many cases such as this, where sex had nothing to do with it, are included in these statistics. consider, the likelyhood of my peeing in public again is pretty damn slim, after that experience! in fact, just to be sure, i may never pee again at all!

    Re: Sex Offender Hysteria (none / 0) (#4)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:45 PM EST
    "you are, from that point on, classified as a "sex offender" in many states [for peeing in public]" And this, I believe, is an example of "hysteria" as well...I do agree that the definition of "sex offender" may need to be more rigorous, but could you tell us which states classify public urinators as sex offenders the same as they do rapists or child molesters? I've heard many people claim it's so (and we all know what that's worth), but I can find no factual information as to how true it really is. The only info I've found is looking at different state's sex offender registries, and none that I've seen requires public urinators to register.

    Re: Sex Offender Hysteria (none / 0) (#5)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:45 PM EST
    I would guess that "public urinators" are classed as 'weenie waggers.' I got busted once for mooning a bandmate in a following car while going over the sunshine skyway. The car in front of us called the cops. And if you have any idea of what it takes to drop trow in a convertible you KNOW that the car in front couldn't see anything. A few threats from the cops and I was released. In these days I would have been arrested, charged with a sex crime and registered as a sex offender. What a world!

    Re: Sex Offender Hysteria (none / 0) (#6)
    by cpinva on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:45 PM EST
    but could you tell us which states classify public urinators as sex offenders the same as they do rapists or child molesters?
    still working on the public urinator question. however, in va, kidnapping for purposes of extortion or pecuniary gain ( 18.2-48. Abduction with intent to extort money or for immoral purpose.) , and all forms of anal & oral sex are considered sex crimes ( 18.2-361. Crimes against nature; penalty), conviction requires that you register as a sex offender. note that i said all forms of anal & oral sex, not just forced ones, are considered criminal acts. this is interesting though. it turns out that the states can pretty much define anything they want as "sex offenses", whether they have anything to do with sex or not.

    Re: Sex Offender Hysteria (none / 0) (#7)
    by squeaky on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:47 PM EST
    Then there is this from Julie Hilden who believes that the law should be hard on pedophiles:
    Pedophiles do not have organized lobbyists, but religious organizations and insurance companies do. Both have been effective bulwarks against reforms that will protect children. They need to be forced to account for their subjugation of children's interests to their interest in money and and preserving their public image.
    Permanent sex-offender registration. Mandatory reporting Laws enforced with stiff penalties. Complicated issue especially if the state gets it wrong.

    government prefers everybody dirty (none / 0) (#10)
    by Sumner on Sat Aug 11, 2007 at 02:50:10 AM EST
    It is interesting, that the same field and discipline that designates pathologies, such as so-called "sex addiction", also devise the most-effective torture methods for the government, such as by the notorious BSCT teams. Further, practitioners in the field of Psychology also determine when someone is "paranoid" for being so seemingly all-consumed with the heavy-handed machinations of government. Nice racket, when you think about it.

    It may not be long before all persons are required to provide complete sexual histories to government, not just those coerced into disclosures to "therapists".

    88% of- what the heck are you talking about? (none / 0) (#11)
    by peelincaps on Fri Nov 02, 2007 at 08:30:48 AM EST
    If 88% of offenders are never reported, how would you know there are 88% of offenders offending? (say that ten times real fast)Geez. In this day and age, sex offenses have more stigma surrounding them than homicides.  To me this is just crazy.  Can you believe that there isn't a national registry for convicted killers?  Wouldn't you want to know if a convicted murderer is moving in to the house next to yours?  I know I would.  Aside from that, many state registries are vague in their descriptions of offenses making it difficult to assess the risk of any given offender. For instance an 18 year old having consensual sex with a 13 year old would be classified under the same category as a 40 year old who molests an unwilling 7 year old. This seems unfair to the public as well as the lesser offender.  I propose that offenders with offenses involving children, non consensual sex, previous offenses or rape should have to register. Also, the age of the victim as well as the age of the offender (at the time of the offense) should be reported. This way, a community can personally use their own judgment to assess the level of risk an offender poses to a certain age group. Simple right?, now try telling that to the bureaucrats who seem to believe that in todays hyper-vigilant, post 9-11 atmosphere, mass hysteria sells and everyone's a threat. I'm not saying that the national registry is not important, I'm saying that the actual threat level is being blown totally out of proportion.  (this is not the first time our government has done this type of stuff as we all know.) It's time for intelligent reform.  More 'tighter leash' legislation on sex offenders would certainly create more problems than it would fix.