Does anyone really understand recidivism?

By Sandy….

The recent post about incorrect information put forth as fact on “The View” has prompted some lively discussion about the term “recidivism” and the difficulty — and even sometimes the wisdom — of engaging in accurate discussions about it. This has prompted me to recall a blog post I wrote several years ago on this subject, and I feel it would be helpful to repeat it now. I feel now the same as I felt then in my opening words — I really dislike recidivism arguments and try to refrain from them. I do feel, however, that when misinformation is spewed from every side and over every air-wave, we must repudiate it. We will continue to do that. And now — a blast from the past.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Thoughts on Sex Offender Recidivism

I strongly dislike arguments and discussions based on recidivism rates. However, I seem to be finding myself in them quite a bit of late.

Any report and any commentary about recidivism is only as good as the ability of the person reading it to properly decipher every factor that went into the study, and unless one is a trained researcher and analyst, that is next to impossible. That is why we cut to the chase: what is “the” recidivism rate?

Understanding all of the factors includes the vocabulary and the definitions. Are we talking any offense, including parole violations, that results in a re-arrest, or only a repeat sexual offense? Are we talking re-arrest, re-conviction, or re-incarceration before it is labeled “recidivism”? Was the study group a cross-section of all offenders, or did it focus on special populations? Were control groups in place? Was proper procedure followed? Was there peer review? (1)

Proponents of ever-increasing stringency and monitoring of former offenders claim that most studies track recidivism only for three years, and that with each year, the rate increases. However, while it is true that recidivism in general increases a little for the group as a whole each year of a study, for every individual in the study, and actually for individuals everywhere, the risk or chance of re-offending goes down every year they remain in the community offense-free. (2) (3) (4)

When you add to this the fact that the vast majority of those who are committing sexual offenses right now and will in the future are those not on a sex offender registry, and this is even more true in cases of child sexual abuse, the actual risk to any given child from a registered individual is minuscule.

No one wants to take any risk or chance, no matter how small, with the safety of his children, but the precautions taken must be in proportion to the actual risk of harm. You don’t totally ostracize and severely damage the lives of over 700,000 registrants and their families and their children based on such a small risk. You teach your children the common-sense precautions that our parents taught us and that you are probably already teaching them, and you keep up with where they are and who they are with–and that will also help, along with some additional instruction, against the much greater risk of sexual harm from those not on a registry.

And as much as it goes against the core of every parental instinct, we accept that we will never guard against all danger. Lightening will strike. Airplanes will fall. The baseball bat will break, and the flying piece will smash into someone’s head. And every time we start the car engine and check in the mirror that they are buckling their seat belts, we are putting them at more risk of calamity the second we are out of the driveway than an individual on the sex offender registry will ever present. (5)

In the food-for-thought category, these are two accurate statements about chances and risks as they involve children and registered offenders.

The person who will sexually molest your child is many times more likely to be found sitting around your table at holiday meals than on a sex offender registry.

Your child is more likely to end up on a sex offender registry him or herself than he or she is to be harmed by someone on the registry.




(3)”Still Time to Rethink the Misguided Approach of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.” AMY BARON-EVANS. Sentencing Resource Counsel, Federal Public and Community Defenders. FEDERAL SENTENCING REPORTER. VO L. 2 0, NO. 5, JUNE 2008, p. 357.

(4) No Easy Answers. Human Rights Watch. September 2007, p. 5.


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Sandy Rozek

Sandy is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.

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    • #22379 Reply

      Forward this to everyone you know.

      • #22730 Reply

        Unfortunately everyone I know knows and understand all of this and understand all of it is BS and political schemes, it’s the people that don’t know me who are the ones who judge and make assumptions, it’s looking positive from some of the things I’ve read on the SCOTUS BLOG.

    • #22414 Reply

      Recidivism? Is that like saying I will not predict how much one repeats a process. So in theory you could say its like breaking wind when someone’s around or no one’s around. Kind of crude don’t you think? Ah yes but man thinks up a lot of things. Trapping someone is like those hunters setting a trap out in the woods. Now a dumb hunter would actually get caught in his or her own trap. Its like pulling the wool over someone’s face without one even knowing it.

      Proving is one thing but predicting is another and is of a person that is over confident in their self . Sandy just the other day a lawyer told me they were looking for a certain type of sex offender case. Of course I have to go the pro bono way as I can’t afford 25thousand dollars as this lawyer quoted but he did say they were looking for a certain type of sex offender case, whatever that case maybe.

      Now these little internet sting set-ups can be easily broken down as most all cops doing these internet stings set up fake profiles, go into adult chat rooms, pose as teenagers. Do you think good Christians with good ethics would do that. Even eve was given warning before she ate the fruit.

      So is recidivism like repeating murder or murdering with the nature of trapping in all this con game? Were talking taking advantage of someone’s body, mind, and conscious. Sandy I have to applaud you with this article as a lot of this internet stuff makes no sense. Oh and also remember this message is being monitored for quality assurance. Don’t you just love that when you call these companies just to get some type of service its like they don’t have their hearing aid on, or can you repeat the question. I guess the monitoring is for quality control as they say. Now that’s something to talk about on the View. lol

    • #22632 Reply

      Lets see if we can have a real debate about a few things!
      if the law says you served your time! how does anyone get to add a possibility clause in a release contract for the prisoner and call it a legal u.s. constitutional police action?
      after all any number of crimes have a recidivism rate!!!!! how was the law allowed to get so far in time to continue heavier and more burdensome liability for the ex offender on the grounds of :just in case” ?
      the law was never allowed to extend more fines, fees and penalties etc. beyond prison on the pretense, one could or might or their is a such and such probability to re-offend! the problem is not about re-offense, it is about you do the crime you do the time! NO PRE_CRIME UNIT IS CONSTITUTIONAL,,,,,NO MATTER HOW ANYONE MAY FEEL, THINK. OR BELIEVE THE BOOGYMAN MAY STRIKE AGAIN!
      Just because the public has been flooded with private and criminal records that usually do not show much of the truth, the general public is not qualified to be, judge, jury, and executioner, unjustly over the ex offenders whole life ! is anyone seeing the problem here? the law does not have the right to destroy civil and constitutional rights or water them down hold them at bay, ignore them or suppress them and badger them and retaliate against the ex offender and on and on!!!!!!!! This is not the right of the people to hold an ex-offender down or at bay in the courts and life just to move on and continue with there lives! vengeance, hate, fear and any other justification is totally not allowed under the ex offenders constitutional rights the law cannot say boo hoo ! look what the ex offender did and still the victum is suffering! nope! sorry! not allowed to continue the ball rolling and more and more etc, fines fees punishments !! courts and restictions are not legal!!!!!!!!!! a conviction does not give grounds alone, to allow all this registration crap to be pilled on a persons life ….on a daily hardship basis to please a so called threat!!!

    • #22897 Reply

      Trish, I don’t know you or anybody on here and all I know is that one of our family members were wrapped up in all this and it just maybe oneself or a loved one that is involved in this and yes I would speak out about this also. Something caught my demeanor when you said, the pretense of re-offending. Sure I believe in Justice- true justice that is.
      I use to be a weekend warrior in my high schools in the early 70’s. Oh yes they would lock me up for the weekend and three days’ later they let me go. Course it always helped me I guess you could say to have a bail bondsman in the family, but all that besides the point, but we all grow up and Trish believe it or not you said a mouth-full with your comment that everybody should understand. Sure we all can come to the breaking with all this recidivism stuff.
      Well I cleaned up my act of drinking from those dinosaur days in a lot of ways but I’m sure people can misunderstand about recidivism and actually no one can predict recidivism of an individual crime. Can anyone predict a shop lifter but they can trap them with those tag’s that most department store’s use.
      Now with this tragic shooting that occurred in Vegas could anyone predict that? And yes that was sad and evil but than good always overcomes bad. See we can’t predict another person of what they do.
      And like Trish said and I’m sure most of you all will agree pretense is pretense or probation is probation, even taking a lie-detector over and over again is a bit much. I wonder if their is recidivism on telling a white lie?

    • #23012 Reply
      Jeremy from Indiana

      One thing I always like to point out in the recidivism argument:

      The registry has not, can not, and will not affect the rate of recidivism no matter how high or how low it actually is.

      Even if it was the inflated fictitious number of 80% given to the Supreme Court, it would still be 80% with or without the registry.

      In fact, recidivism and/or more heinous crimes have been attributed to the registry. People have been murdered for being on the registry. Offenders who have yet to be caught and are not on the registry take extra steps (to include murdering their victims) to avoid a life on the registry. Other crimes such as theft have increased in areas where registrants are highly restricted because they can’t get housing or jobs and have to survive. I wouldn’t be surprised if some registrants reoffend because they have no hope and 3 hots and a cot is better than sleeping on the street.

      The registry also opens the door for a tyrannical government. Take away the rights of a hated group and then progress to slightly less hated groups over time. When people start complaining when their rights are taken away, case law for the registry will be used against them. Fascism 101.

    • #23097 Reply

      Wow Jeremy I sort of like that answer also. You see the first time I ever heard the word recidivism was in my AA program they sent me to. I went to Marshall University at the time of the plane crash. Did some college work their and back than I was sort of a party guy also. I remember one night the jailer saying to me, “back again” but they were protecting me to be honest, or me from getting into a car and driving and I’ve been that route before.
      But this thing that everybody is under one doesn’t want re-offend as it is a deadly mistake and like you said its a numbers game to some and in a way the number always gives a percentage, it can stand constant and never change and that’s up to the individual.
      Now I live over in Virginia and as a matter of fact JP Welsh that Barbara Jones hooked me up with has been very good at giving me some support. Now it seems the sex offender gets probation depending on the circumstance but its all a scheme a lot of it is. Now given that scenario of the weekend warrior vs. the sex offender sting operations in some cases. who’s protecting who….. the person that’s drunk or the one that’s talking to a fictitious person on the internet. I don’t see how one can protect a fictitious person when it comes right down to it.
      If your lucky to never get in jail than you shouldn’t have to worry about recidivism, getting to the truth and looking at oneself is better for one to correct oneself in all this blind man’s bluff game.

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