By Robin and Sandy . . . On “The View,” September 25, program regular Sunny Hostin said, in response to the announcement that Anthony Weiner had been sentenced to 21 months for sexting with a minor, that she felt the sentence was inappropriate and had she been prosecutor, she would have asked for a longer term.
She justified this by saying that there is “such a high rate of recidivism” for those who commit these types of offenses, and when another program regular indicated that she didn’t know what that meant, Ms. Hostin said, “He’ll reoffend; he’ll do it over and over again.” She stated it as fact, much the same way she would have said that the earth is round. No one blinked; no one questioned.
There is absolutely NO “high rate of recidivism” among registered sex offenders, and not a single academically-vetted study of recidivism that has ever demonstrated an across-the-board rate higher than 10% in more than twenty years of published statistical data.
In fact, what more recent and reliable studies (such as here, here, and here) DO demonstrate is that the average rate of recidivism among sex offenders nationwide hovers comfortably somewhere between 3 and 6 percent.
The ladies of “The View” should stop lying to the public by repeating false data as scientific truth.
Those in the scientific community as well as those, such as NARSOL, who advocate for truth and facts in legislation, must take every opportunity to challenge the Hollywood-type media when such false information is spoken as truth.
This is by no means the first popular talk-television program to throw out false figures and information about those who are labeled sexual offenders as though they were written in stone. And it almost certainly will not be the last.
The consumers of such programs do not know such remarks are made out of complete ignorance. It is possible that very few of them read, for example, the Washington Post, where they might encounter academic pieces filled with the actual facts about those who have been adjudicated for a previous sexual offense.
It is even less likely that they will have read actual research by learned scholars, experts in the field, or any of the huge body of evidence accumulated for the past twenty-plus years showing the very low reoffense rate for previously convicted sexual offenders.
The general American public gets its information from shows such as The View, Dr. Phil, and even Law and Order. This information shapes their views and beliefs. In reliance on those views and beliefs, they elect representatives who, often no more knowledgeable, create laws. When laws are created that are grounded on lies and myths rather than facts and evidence, everyone loses.
Not only do we end up with dysfunctional public policy —the public sex offender registry–and several million needlessly destroyed lives, but we totally fail to address the actual causes and possible remedies of the very real issue of sexual violence throughout our culture.
Sandy, a NARSOL board member, 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.