Social, not geographic, proximity facilitates sex crimes

By Guy Hamilton-Smith . . . New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently unveiled a legislative proposal packaged as part of a budget amendment to expand already onerous residency and presence restrictions for some sex offenders in New York.

The proposal expands blanket presence and residency restrictions for sex offenders who are on parole or post-release supervision by vastly increasing the number of places they cannot be near. It would outlaw the presence of some sex offenders within 1,000 feet of school grounds, “any facility or institution that offers kindergarten or pre-kindergarten instruction,” or any other place that is “used for the care or treatment” of minors. The proposal also prohibits level 2 and 3 sex offenders — those whom the state deems most at risk to re-offend — from staying at homeless shelters that serve families, even if they are no longer under supervision.

In dense urban environments like New York City, such restrictions — which make it illegal for sex offenders to merely exist in many places — are tantamount to banishment. While sex offender registries (and many of the restrictions that go along with them) have proven to be ineffective and inhumane, public defenders, experts, and advocates say that few restrictions are as ineffective and punitive as those proposed by Cuomo.

“It’s hard to believe that we are debating banishment as an acceptable public safety measure in 2018,” Christina Swarns, attorney-in-charge of New York’s Office of the Appellate Defender, which provides appellate representation to individuals convicted of felonies, told In Justice Today. “This conversation is particularly absurd given the overwhelming evidence that people convicted of sex offenses are more likely to re-offend when isolated and denied medical, social and economic supports. Banishment is a punishment that should remain in the dustbin of history.”

The theory behind the restrictions advanced by Cuomo is that by banishing people convicted of sex crimes from places where children are present, children will be safer. Proposals like Cuomo’s operate on the assumption that sexual offending is perpetrated by serial predators roaming the streets, but the data demonstrates that sex offenses far more commonly take place within the confines of families, relationships, schools, and workplaces — where victims know and trust their perpetrators. It is social proximity, not geographic proximity, that facilitates the majority of sex crimes.

While proponents of the Cuomo proposal suggest it targets those deemed most likely to re-offend, Lauren Stephens-Davidowitz, a supervising attorney with the Office of Appellate Defender, told In Justice Today that the risk assessment tool used by New York State has never been subject to scientific scrutiny. For example, it treats a sex offender’s status as a juvenile as an aggravating (rather than mitigating) factor in assigning a risk level. So it’s unclear if the risk levels assigned by authorities, such as the Level 2 and 3 categories, are based on criteria that are scientifically sound.

Further, the research conducted on geographic restrictions like those proposed by Cuomo demonstrate that they do not succeed at their goal of increasing public safety by preventing sexual offenses. Worse than being merely ineffective, policies that force out people who are most in need of services and support, like those on the sex offender registry, actually make re-offense more likely. “The evidence is fairly clear that residence restrictions are not effective,” according to a 2015 Department of Justice research brief on sex offender management. “In fact, the research suggests that residence restrictions may actually increase offender risk by undermining offender stability and the ability of the offender to obtain housing, work, and family support. There is nothing to suggest this policy should be used at this time.”

In addition to pushing people out of their communities, they also prevent prisoners from being released back into them. Swarns of the Office of Appellate Defender told In Justice Today that there are an unknown number of inmates who remain in custody past their serve-out dates because they cannot provide a residential address that complies with existing residency restrictions on sex offenders. In 2016, New York’s Legal Aid Society and several other organizations sued state and city officials for holding nearly 200 people past their maximum sentence since 2014. If Cuomo’s proposal is passed, it seems likely that this problem will only become worse.

Courts, however, are beginning to show an increased willingness to strike down such restrictions on sex offenders. In 2015, a unanimous Massachusetts Court of Appeals observed that “the days are long since past when whole communities of persons, such Native Americans and Japanese-Americans may be lawfully banished from our midst.” Also in 2015, the California Supreme Court overturned blanket residency restrictions applied to sex offenders, noting that they “greatly increased the incidence of homelessness” amongst people on the registry. In 2016, the federal Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down several aspects of Michigan’s sex offender registry and noted that it “consigns [the plaintiffs] to years, if not a lifetime, of existence on the margins, not only of society, but often, as the record in this case makes painfully evident, from their own families, with whom, due to school zone restrictions, they may not even live.”

Despite court rulings, scientific research, and even an admonition from the Department of Justice, geographic restrictions on sex offenders continue to be supported by politicians like Cuomo and New York State Senator Jeffrey Klein. Advocates, policy experts, and public defenders say that these policies are not based in fact or science and place not in my backyard politics over public safety.

Source: IN JUSTICE TODAY

 

 

 

 

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    • #37227 Reply
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      Joe

      This is great news. Let them keep increasing the restrictions, then what happened in Pennsylvania will happen other places too. Unfortunately this is the fastest way to bring down the registry.

    • #37246 Reply
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      Hank

      Politicians don’t care about facts or science, they are mostly self serving narcissists. They gain the most by using fear to manipulate the voters. If they used science, facts and common sense the registry wouldn’t exist at all. It is a huge and ineffective waste of tax payer dollars.

    • #37247 Reply
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      Robert J Hogg

      Yes let them over fill there bucket, like Jim crow

    • #37248 Reply
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      Richard Rosen

      please cite specific reference so nyers can write to Cuomo

    • #37249 Reply
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      Richard Rosen

      please cite the specific reference so NYers can write to the governor

      • #37305 Reply
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        Art B

        Here is the url for the Research Brief referenced in the article. https://smart.gov/pdfs/AdultSexOffenderManagement.pdf
        There is an entire section with references to various research studies concluding that residency restrictions don’t work. Also, the conclusion in this Research Brief is very clear…
        “Finally, the evidence is fairly clear that residence restrictions are not effective. In fact, the research suggests that residence restrictions may actually increase offender risk by undermining offender stability and the ability of the offender to obtain housing, work, and family support. There is nothing to suggest this policy should be used at this time.”

    • #37263 Reply
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      CG

      I pray that I am alive to see this horrendous registry abolished. It is a waste of tax payer dollars and the fact that we have had to reform them year after year means they are flawed. It is not effective. We need to go back to the drawing board and spend money in effective counseling programs and getting them back into society. Bring hope, not despair.

    • #37260 Reply
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      Israel

      I’m glad to see douche bags like this take these extreme measures. In the short run people will be tortured by this type of legislation, in the long run, the more that happens is all the better the chances of getting all residency restrictions repelled completely. This guys campaign staff forgot to tell him, winning by going after already convicted that have done their time sex offenders went out years ago. What a dirt bag, using human capital to further his political agenda. What a freaking monster. I would rather be a sex offender than this douche bag.

    • #37259 Reply
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      Robin Schnell

      When I lobby, politicians want to see data. blogs like this are interesting, but they don’t help us convince politicians, write letters to the editor, or even try to educate our friends.

      • #37308 Reply
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        Art B

        The fact that there are numerous, conflicting studies on various sex offender management issues makes it difficult for a lawmaker to find a single version of the truth. As a result, many just rely on their gut instinct, emotions/fears, or, most importantly, political pressure when making decisions. I’m curious if NARSOL is supporting any research efforts that are attempting to find better quantitative evidence. It would certainly help with education and lobbying efforts.

    • #37278 Reply
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      Wearethepeople

      Tier 1,2,3, was something I did not know about till 2014. My grandson who was 18, pleaded guilty to being with someone who said she was 16. The DA had him write down that he did it. His plea was Tier 1. He was told because of what he pleaded guilty too, they needed to make sure he was not violent. We all laughed, this was not who my grandson was. It was the Commonwealth against my grandson, not the girl, or her mother. Needless to say, when the SOAB, which is the Sex Offender Assessment Board did their evaluation. The SOAB went off of others information, which was wrong, this was what was being said to my grandson when they questioned him. They never talked to the girl, who would have made things right. He had paid for a new attorney who said he could win this. Needless to say he was labeled a Tier 3 something that he is not. So when I hear all the bad things that they want to do to people labeled as Sex Offenders. I know what the Governors are doing is wrong. I know what had happened to my grandson was wrong. Some say it is all one sided, the public only hears bad, bad, bad. They put on the TV, little children saying he told me not to tell, it hurts. No wonder the public look at all Sex Offenders as someone with a little child. That is the image that we need to change. It should always be that the SOAB talk directly to the other person involved. Not going off of information that had been mixed up for convenience sake.

    • #37287 Reply
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      Edward A Nightingale

      Wherarethepeople,
      I saw the SOAB. They implied that I had been drinking during my offending. I had told them that I wasn’t drinking at anytime during the period of of time that I offended. I had been a social drinker up unti I started dating her mom. At court, she said that I had been drinking in my admission (the SOAB agent). An outright lie, I wasn’t able to counter it in court and my attorney implied that I couldn’t. I was a pot smoker. I told her this, but she never said a word about that.

    • #37302 Reply
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      D

      More double jeopardy punishments? The circuit court just rules the registry is punishment and this JackA$$ is still trying to add more punishment to the list. When the law suites start the blame will land on people like this idiot.

    • #37304 Reply
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      obvious answers

      It will not get better. Some may say I am wearing a tin hat but feel free to research what I included at the bottom as a start, look at society and draw your own conclusions.
      “sex offender” is a specifically chosen and targeted brand as the detested of society.lot of propaganda in that.
      Everyone listed as “sex offender” is branded in the absolute worst manner to be guinnui pigs.

      The registries are only the start. The registry was needed to for the gun registries and other control tools that will follow.
      Soon the sex offender registry will be used to begin population control. The further away from being human you are branded, the easier it will be.

      Here is some reading literature and some of the experiments utilized to create the rat maze you are currently enrolled in.

      The Asch Conformity experiment
      The Good Samaritan Experiment (Darley and Batson)
      Bystander Apathy Experiment
      The Stanford Prison Experiment
      The Migram experiment
      and finally:
      why dehumanizing reistrys?
      It is not about safety, nor ever was it.. it was a scientifically and psychologically determined form of population control. Dehumanization can help predict attitudes and behaviors and create a sterile environment for control
      Social Dominance Theory experiment

    • #37310 Reply
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      Joseph

      There’s something wrong with this man’s mind. I bet that he and the donald are connected somehow.

    • #37325 Reply
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      Saddles

      Seems every politician loves to make rules for others. They even have rules for dogs today Did you know if your dog poops in the park one has to have a poop bag, walking down the street with a dog would be a bit much also. I would love to hear an internet sex “scam” sting operation saying : Mom is gone would you come over at the house and play with my dog and help me, he’s board and so am also, I can’t get him out of his cage or any number of combinations. Like the investigator told me, Its all part of the game.

      Yes law enforcment seems to come up with everything to sucker one in. Yes we have to pat that dective on the back for doing public a safety number. They should even give those that are caught up in all this a “sucker” as a good gesture when they are interigating them.

      So they incircerate one or give you probation and one has a certain line or barrier line to challange as to were to live and its all controled under them if one lets them Remember they are “Ordained”. You folks haven’t been reading your bible or your just reading the these, thou’s, and the begot’s. Human law is good or did someone eat the forbidden fruit of the Old Testament. Actually I think we should ask to be stoned to death and that would take care of all sex offenders & save a lot of prison space plus save a lot of money instead of us having to be defrauded of our life, liberty and true Justice for all.

      We wouldn’t even have to worry about planes, trains, and automobiles or being close to parks, lakes, schools, and lets not forget churches, wonder why it doesn’t mention churches. I’m sure it will get to that eventually. Maybe we all should wear a dog collar around our neck saying “sucker sex offender”.

      Now if I’m being a bit sarcastic I am, as all this is for safety but than again I wonder who suffers at nights, Is it law enforcement people that set one up or the politician that said “let em eat cake”. or should they say I’m proud to be an American. I believe law and government need to be thrown some black power, white power and Gospel power all at the same time.

    • #37328 Reply
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      Mark S.

      First, a level 2 offender is only a “moderate” risk of re-offense. Not as the article speaks too. Second, Coumo is running for re-election this year. Third, his administration has been plagued over the past years and more recently with scandals and indictments. Fourth, he is now picking on sexual offenders so, in my view, he can inflames the NY masses for the vote. Lets to the math: 1+1=2, 2+2=4. The AGE OLD tactic to find a scapegoat and squeeze them to no end. It is historical. The sad aspect to all of this, the masses will buy into it hook-line-and sinker and “feel” safe.

    • #37341 Reply
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      Maestro

      I’d like to ask the governor: If Elvis Presley was still alive, would you want him to be banished from society? Or would he have to actually have a criminal conviction for dating 14 yr old Priscilla? Just KNOWING he did wouldn’t be good enough?

      This guy is a joke. And any NYer’s who fall for his b.s. are just as much a joke as he is.

    • #37360 Reply
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      Saddles

      Sandy does keep people on their toes with a lot of these topics, thumbs up Sandy. I have to agree this is a good topic about that Governor in NY. All of the comments have been good and it gives food for thought also. I do like that obvious answers guy up their. Matter of fact the other night I was just brushing up on the good sumertian and listening to John McArthur sermon, which is more about loveing thy neighbor as thyself.

      All this psycho experiment stuff isn’t my bag. Sure we’ve have bad things go on in America. I wonder who made the decision to drop the “Atomic bomb” in WWII, now there’s your gun control. .. wipe em all out and you don’t have to worry about the enemy. Sort of cruel isn’t it but that was the President of that time.

      Now we are faced with the sex offender epic that is so biblically unbalanced and presents a power hunger for all politicians today. OldTestament law was somewhat a domination of fighting struggle Sure they wanted to know how to love thy neighbor as thyself and how to help others but they missed the course in a few ways. Is this Sex Offender ordeal some futuristic perdiction thats gone a bit too far.

      Today its dog eat dog and law enforcements are picking people off the internet left and right with this made up story opportunity to get one to come down and to meet. Is that some power play or is it todays’ political justice for all. The governors and the president’ should be ashamed and yes they will get their damnation. I wonder who’s more carnal the law or the regular citizens. I wonder who’s more power hungry.

      Believe it or not all this is a Civil right issue and a form of human slavery that need’s to be addressed and the commandmants they have broken, but thats life. Sure the internet is good and the law is good if you use it correctly but man seems to want to play these games. Believe it or not, not all are sex offenders or did we all come out of the same egg. Talk to congressman, civil lawyers, Yes NARSOL is in there with you but we all have to pull together just like Mary Sue is in Texas and make a difference.

    • #37433 Reply
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      Saddles

      At times I believe we all get carried away with some of these articles and yes it oppresses us with these strongholds and laws they put on man. Even this comment about damnnation on this governor and president was a bit out of character and harsh and I do apologize for that. Sure we all should judge in a righteous way but this sex offender issue would make one want to blow their top in a lot of these issues. One has to look at the basics of all this.

      Those in law enforcement are giving a made up opportuity to sway one, and they are servants of God. Sounds a bit twisted but in the end true justice needs to be addressed.

    • #37435 Reply
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      Brian

      I don’t know what the newyork constitution is like, I don’t know it has the protections that the pa constitution has but there should be some sort of expost facto clause, if not in the new York constitution it’s in the US constitution, restrictions do nothing absolutely nothing to protect anyone, a bullet can go 1000 feet in a second, why not ban guns and stuff like that instead of BS like this, no it doesn’t affect me but it’s still BS.

    • #37466 Reply
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      Anthony

      This is the very fact of the situation that a matter of feet imposed does not increase sex offense being repeated but the very decision not to reoffend. THE POLITICIANS SHOULD TAKE A VERY LONG LOOK AT THEMSELVES IN THE MIRROR DUE TO THEIR VERY OWN SEXUAL MISCONDUCT CIVIL OR CRIMINAL IN NATURE.

    • #37481 Reply
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      Brian

      Cuomo Looks like a pet iguana, lmao

    • #37511 Reply
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      Concerned american

      No American citizen should be subjected to a progressively increasing loss of liberty for any reason. To think otherwise is to give away the freedom that our country is supposed to represent. If history teaches us anything it is that public criminal registries are a step towards genocide. In creating the demon title “sex offender” they have dehumanized almost a million people in our country. I pray for the sake of our country that common sense will prevail as the alternative is surely terrifying.

    • #37780 Reply
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      misdemeanor offender

      Let’s be honest for a brief moment and look at the Democratic Party and its position of sexual offenders. There is plenty of evidence that suggests Democrats are mostly in favor of sex offender registries. A reason I bring this up is that most Democrats view the registry as a cost reduction method of reducing the prison population. Republicans, on the other hand, see the registry as a tool that supports a get tough on crime initiative.

      In 1947 California, a mostly democratic leaning state, and democratic legislatures helped create the California Sex and Arson Registry (CSAR). Eventually, Washington state and Minnesota joined decades later, both states democratic leaning states. Now it’s New York, another democratic leaning state that desires to increase and convolute its restructions bypassing the federal guidelines. Why? Because its famed politician seeks a political agenda to capture some media attention and additional votes. Forget about addressing reforms or facts. The political machine is in motion to instill fear about sex offenders rather than guns which may lose votes.

      If New York wanted to become a leader in change and remain a powerhouse in public policy, then it would present legislation to end the registry and replace it with a criminal code to incarcerate those that break the law and stop using plea bargains as a weapon as a convenience to law enforcement and the courts.

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